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Tiger census begins in the Sunderbans

Canning: The tiger census through camera trapping method has started in West Bengal's Sunderbans, which, according to the last estimate, was home to 96 big cats, an official said.

The process of camera installation in the Sunderbans, one of the largest mangrove forests in the world, has been completed in the first phase, and the movement of big cats will be monitored for a month, he said.

"We have already installed many cameras. The forest department will also put 272 more in January. Overall 1,164 cameras will be installed at 582 locations this time," Sunderbans Tiger Reserve field director Tapas Das said.

Altogether 10 teams comprising 120 forest personnel are taking part in the exercise, he said on Wednesday.

According to the last census, the tiger population in the Sunderbans reserve forest had increased to 96 from the previous estimate of 88.

Of the 4,200 square km area in the Sunderbans, 3,700 square km is the habitat of big cats.

Tiger estimation in the mangrove forest had traditionally been done by the pugmark method, the forest official said, adding that the last counting exercise was primarily based on camera trapping technique.

The pugmark method was field-friendly, but due to some drawbacks, the Project Tiger authorities developed a new methodology for monitoring of tigers, co-predators, prey and habitat.

The camera trapping technique is more reliable than the traditional method of counting pugmarks, another forest department official said.

According to All India Tiger Estimation Report 2018, the country has emerged as one of the biggest and safest habitats for big cats in the world.

The last four-yearly tiger census report said the population of the big cat in the country had grown from 1,411 in 2006 to 2,967 in 2019.

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