Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Forest department will conduct a fresh census of tigers in Similipal National Park from today.

The exercise will continue till April 30 during which the park will remain closed for visitors for at least two weeks.

The fresh head count, which has already been completed in other wildlife divisions of the state, was initiated by the Forest department after the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), in a report released last year, contradicted the state government's claim and said the number of big cats had come down drastically in the state.

Camera trapping method will be used for the census with installation of closed circuit television (CCTVs) cameras at 500 locations. Sources said about 350 officials have been deployed for the entire exercise.

It may be mentioned that the NTCA,, after its tiger census in Similipal in 2014, had stated that the number of tigers in Odisha had come down over the years. According to its report, there were 45 tigers in the state in 2006 which came down to 32 in 2010 and just 28 in 2014.

But the state government did not accept the report and conducted a fresh tiger census in 46 wildlife divisions in the state except Similipal National Park from February 5 to 10 this year in which it had used about 20,000 pug impression pads (PIPs) and 800 CCTV cameras.

The Forest department will arrive at its own figures on the number of tigers in the state after the census is completed in Similipal.