Carolina Tiger Rescue, formerly the Carnivore Preservation Trust, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit wildlife sanctuary whose mission is saving and protecting wild cats in captivity and in the wild.



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Wildtrack

Carolina Tiger Rescue's tigers have an ongoing project with a research team from SAS to help save endangered tigers in the wild, a big job for our tiger ambassadors!


How do they do it? Walk this way!


In 1992, Zoe Jewell and Sky Alibhai founded RhinoWatch, a research program for counting and monitoring populations of black rhino in Zimbabwe. They found the safest method to track the animals without impacting their habitat was collecting their tracks with FIT, a Footprint Identification Technique. The amount of data that can be ascertained from an animal’s footprint is astounding: their size, weight, sex, and possibly even age. Accurate data is essential to monitor endangered species’ populations in the wild and determine which efforts have the greatest impact in saving their numbers.


The vast interest created by the project led to the expansion of the project in 2004, and a change in name from RhinoWatch to WildTrack. Species research expanded to include tapirs and tigers.


Wildtrack's Five steps to saving endangered animals:

  1. Multiple images of footprints of individual animals are photographed. For consistency, the image collected is the left hind foot. For any given database, the researchers look for about 20 known subjects. And for each animal, the researchers request 20 prints.
  2. The photos are digitally enhanced for optimal visibility and to ensure consistency from print to print.
  3. A geometric profile is created and algorithms are developed using JMP statistical discovery software from SAS.
  4. The images are entered into a database and variations in the shapes and sizes of the prints create a unique profile for each animal.
  5. Individual animals can be identified. And true censusing of wild populations can take place -- all with this non-invasive, inexpensive and sustainable technique.

Enter Carolina Tiger Rescue tigers. WildTrack needed examples to create the algorithms used in the FIT process. And they needed to build a database of known animals that would be used for comparison to prints collected in the wild. Carolina Tiger Rescue was a unique opportunity to evaluate numerous tigers under controlled conditions in an accessible location. WildTrack has already sampled many tigers at the facility, including the Virginia Girls, Jellybean, Isabella, and Romeo. (Rumor has it that Micro peed on her paw prints, and Izzy rolled in hers.)


As Carolina Tiger Rescue continues to rescue additional tigers, SAS volunteers return to print the newer tigers for WildTrack's database -- and to help the researchers evaluate how tiger paw prints change as the tigers age.


It’s a very special opportunity for Carolina Tiger Rescue's tigers to play a role in conservation, and a great way to educate the community about the challenges faced in saving endangered species. In addition to the Bengal tiger of India and Bangladesh, WildTrack is now being used to save additional species such as the Gray Fox, the Sumatran rhino, the lowland tapir of Argentina, polar bears in Canada, and the most endangered wildcat in the world, the Iberian lynx.


What a privilege for Carolina Tiger Rescue tigers to serve in such a noble effort!


For more information on WildTrack, visit www.wildtrack.org
For more on WildTrack's use of SAS, visit www.jmp.com/mag/wild
For more on WildTrack's recent work with polar bears, visit www.jmp.com/bears