WCS conservationists like Dr. Ullas Karanth are constantly searching for more accurate ways to study elusive wildlife populations, like tigers in India. An earlier method of research, called the pug-mark census, assessed the status of these endangered big cats by their paw prints. Now, Karanth employs the far more reliable method of stripe-counting, with the aid of digital cameras and sophisticated software.

Much like fingerprints, tiger stripe patterns are unique to individual cats. Through photos taken by remote camera traps set up in tiger habitat, researchers can identify new cats, their condition, and the status of the population, all without being intrusive. The use of this technology may also prove useful in identifying animals that have fallen victim to the illegal wildlife trade.

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