Bhubaneswar: Hinting that the State government will carry out another tiger census in next summer season, Odisha Chief Wildlife Warden Ajay Kumar Mohapatra today stated the tiger census carried out by the central agencies have ignored many forest divisions where big cats have been spotted.

A controversy has emerged after the Central government claimed in the Tiger Census report two days back that there were only 28 tigers in Odisha in 2018, exactly the same number the 2014 census had mentioned.

Though tigers were spotted in forests of Hemagiri in Sundergarh and Rayagada districts, the central agencies have not included those areas during the census, alleged Mohapatra. This apart, camera trap method used to calculate the tiger population is not possible in inaccessible areas of Similipal and Sunabeda Tiger Reserves.

“Undoubtedly, there are more number of tigers in the State. The Central agencies have not included our sampling and estimates,” said Mohapatra, adding that the State will take a decision to carry out another big cat census next summer using pug marks and camera trap methods.

Even in 2016, the State government had carried out a second tiger census challenging the report provided by Centre in 2014.

Wildlife experts also found it difficult to accept the numbers mentioned by the central agencies. The number of big cats standing still at 28 as per the Central government is not acceptable. “Odisha was the pioneer in the census of big cat using pug mark method. The report of the central agencies seems half-hearted, as it is not possible to take photos of tigers in their habitat such as Similipal,” stated Lala Ashwini Kumar Singh, a tiger expert.