Top Photos: 20 Years Camera-trapping India’s Elusive Carnivores

January 29, 2014

India is a haven for elusive animals, with close to 50 species of wild carnivores. Krithi Karnath, WCS Associate Conservation Scientist, takes a look back at 20 years of successful camera trapping by the WCS-India Program.

With close to 50 species of wild carnivores, India is a haven for elusive families of cats, dogs, hyaenas, bears, otters, civets and mongooses. The Wildlife Conservation Society-India Program has been camera-trapping critters in India for more than 20 years. This program originally started with pioneering camera trap work on tigers and leopards by Dr. K. Ullas Karanth in the early 1990s and has now grown to become one largest global camera trap datasets.

Owing to the enormous effort invested in such camera trap surveys in the Western Ghats, WCS-India database now has more than 750 uniquely identifiable tigers.

Along the way, there have been several exciting and unexpected discoveries. Black leopards are not a separate species, but are melanistic (dark colored) variants of the normal leopards. They occur naturally in the wild and may form up to 10% of the total leopard population in the Western Ghats. Perhaps these famous felines are not as uncommon as previously thought.

View the top photos on NatGeo Newswatch >>
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