Population size estimation is a prerequisite for assessment of conservation status of a species in its natural habitat. With a global scenario of vanishing local population of tigers in many parts of its range distribution, estimation of the minimum number of individuals is vital for prioritizing conservation attention to specific areas with long term possibility of survival of the species. In the present study, DNA based techniques were used to identify species, individuals and sex from 72 faecal samples collected from Buxa Tiger Reserve of West Bengal. Present study confirms the presence of 15 individual tigers with 3 male, 9 female and 3 with unknown sex identity. Genetic capture recapture estimate based on single session sampling using CAPWIRE yields population size of 25 (95% CI 19 to 31) following the even capture probability model. Results obtained from the present study indicate possible movement of tigers from contiguous forest patches of Bhutan to the north and Manas Tiger Reserve on the east of Buxa. The present study shows that noninvasive genetics can be an effective tool in monitoring elusive species such as tiger, especially in areas of low population density.
Key words: Panthera tigris tigris, noninvasive genetics, microsatellite, population estimation, CAPWIRE, Buxa Tiger Reserve.
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