European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 603–613 | Cite as

Noninvasive genetic monitoring of tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) population of Orang National Park in the Brahmaputra floodplain, Assam, India

  • Udayan Borthakur
  • Rumi Dev Barman
  • Chatrapati Das
  • Ajit Basumatary
  • Anjan Talukdar
  • M. Firoz Ahmed
  • Bibhab Kumar Talukdar
  • Rupjyoti Bharali
Original Paper


The Brahmaputra Valley of Assam, India, is one of the prime habitats for the endangered Royal Bengal tiger Panthera tigris tigris. With dwindling global population, estimation of the minimum number of tigers has always been a curiosity to wildlife researchers as well as to protected area managers. In the present study, DNA-based techniques were used for identifying individual tigers present in Orang National Park of Assam, from 57 faecal samples collected during February 2009. Orang National Park stands as an island of a single forest patch along the north bank of river Brahmaputra. The present study confirms the presence of 17 individual tigers in Orang National Park, with five male and 12 female. DNA-based capture–recapture analysis yielded minimum range estimate of 18 and 19 individuals, with possible overestimates of population size following two models of capture probability in CAPWIRE. The results of our genetic counting of tigers are compared with the estimates of 19 tigers based on pugmark analysis by the state Forest Department in 2000 and an independent capture–recapture estimate of 14 (±3.6) individuals based on photographic identity study in 2009. Looking at high mortality of tigers in the area, with 19 reported deaths during 2000 to 2009, our results indicate high individual turnover in the area. This study shows that Orang National Park harbours a healthy breeding population of tigers. However, the possibility of a source-sink dynamics operating in the landscape could not be ruled out, with possible immigration from nearby Kaziranga National Park on the south bank of Brahmaputra, which has the highest reported density of the species in the world.


Panthera tigris tigris Noninvasive genetics Population estimation Microsatellites Orang National Park Assam Northeast India 



We are grateful to the Forest Department of Assam and local Forest Department of Orang National Park for providing access to the park. We are also grateful to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, and the Chief Wildlife Warden of Assam for providing us permission to undertake sample collection in the protected areas of Assam. Our special thanks go to Mr. Pranjal Kumar Das, Researcher at Wildlife Genetics Laboratory, Aaranyak, for his support to this work. Thanks also go to Mr. Kamal Azad and Mr. Dhritiman Das for their support in the field. We sincerely thank Mr. Pranjit Kumar Sarma and the team of GIS experts at Aaranyak for their help and support during this work. Thanks to Dr. Hilloljyoti Sinha, Assistant Professor at Assam University, Silchar, India, for his valuable suggestions to the manuscript. We thank our field assistants Mr. Biraj Saikia and Mr. Anil Das for their support in the field. Thanks also to all the officials and staff of Aaranyak for their support to the smooth running of the field and laboratory work. We also thank Mr. Bibek Yumnam, Senior Research Fellow at Wildlife Institute of India, for his valuable input to this work. The laboratory work was financially supported by Aaranyak Rufford Small Grants and field study was supported by SeaWorld Busch Gardens Conservation Fund.

Authors’ contributions

UB conceived the study design, data analysis, wrote the manuscript and provided guidance to RDB in carrying out the laboratory work. RDB carried out the laboratory work. CD, AB and MFA undertook the field sampling. MFA also provided guidance to the field team in sample collection using the same grids where simultaneously camera traps are also being installed. AT contributed towards reference tissue sample collection. BKT provided overall administrative support, research planning and guidance for the smooth running of the project. RB provided inputs to the manuscript writing. All the authors have read and accepted the final manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Udayan Borthakur
    • 1
  • Rumi Dev Barman
    • 1
  • Chatrapati Das
    • 1
  • Ajit Basumatary
    • 1
  • Anjan Talukdar
    • 1
  • M. Firoz Ahmed
    • 1
  • Bibhab Kumar Talukdar
    • 1
  • Rupjyoti Bharali
    • 2
  1. 1.AaranyakGuwahatiIndia
  2. 2.Department of BiotechnologyGauhati UniversityGuwahatiIndia

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