Rashmi Ranjan

The census of the big cat began today across different forests of Odisha on Monday with the State aiming to cover more forests this time than the previous years.

According to sources, the census will take place in 20 forests across the State this year. As many as 15 forests were covered during the last census in 2018. 

A meeting between the State Forest department officials and the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had been organised to chalk out plans for the survey.  

A State-level nodal officer for the census will be appointed and training will be given to Master Trainers by NTCA officials. The census will be conducted in four phases. While the first and third phases will be carried out by the State forest department, the second and fourth phases will be conducted by the NTCA, sources informed.

The first phase of the counting will be carried out using a special app, while the third phase will be conducted using camera trap. After scrutinising all data, a final census report will be published.

According to the 2004 census, which was carried out using pug mark method, there were 192 tigers in Odisha. However, the numbers declined sharply to 45 in 2006 after camera trap technique was adopted for the counting.

While the big cat population stood at 32 in 2010, the count in the State declined further to 28 during 2014 and 2018 census. However, Odisha is hopeful to see an upward trend during the counting this year.