A new study suggests that the methodology used to determine whether the number of tigers has increased was flawed.
Scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society, University of Oxford and the Indian Statistical Institute, have analyzed the method involved in determining the data regarding the tiger population in India.
According to their research, the method was likely to have come up with inaccurate results.
The Indian government announced on January 20 the results of the latest tiger census, which said that the tiger population has gone up by 30% in the past four years.
The census said the numbers have gone from 1,706 in 2010, to 2,226 in 2014.
According to recent reports, in India live more than 70% of the world’s tiger population. This was seen as a remarkable progress and revealed the fact that the tiger is no longer on the endangered species list.
The researchers are now questioning the procedure used to determine India’s tiger population. The experts say that this technique is called index calibration and it implies measuring in one small area and then extrapolating the results and apply them over a wider area in order to obtain a bigger picture.
This means that the recent census could be mistaken, according to the experts.
Arjun Gopalaswamy, one of the researchers involved in the study, said that the latest figures released by the Indian officials could be “compromised”.
Gopalaswamy argues that their recent study shows that using the index calibration method is not very reliable, meaning that if there is even a 10% uncertainty level, it can compromise the entire counting.
Gopalaswamy explains that his team’s empirical testing of India’s tiger population numbers proved that such index-calibration could reveal inaccurate results that do not reflect the reality of the situation.
Professor David Macdonald, one of Gopalaswamy’s colleagues, said that when counting such rare animals as the tiger, there needs to be a greater focus on accuracy and index-calibration is not the perfect method for achieving that.
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