In a first, wildlife officials are collecting tiger faeces to estimate the population of the big cats in erratic terrains and insurgency-hit areas in the country, with a report likely to be released next month.
The experiment - "scats" - is being conducted for the first time in uneven terrains like those in northeastern states, and naxal-affected areas, where installing cameras to capture the movement of tigers is tough, a National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) official said.
The official said tiger faeces are being used for genetic sampling and estimating the big cats population for the 2018 Tiger Census.
Explaining the methodology of ''scats'', an official of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), an autonomous institution of the Environment Ministry, said the technique involves making polygons - squares in this case -- of 25 sqkm each in an area of 400 sqkm in the northeastern region, and then physically going there and collecting faeces for genetic sampling.
"Such methodologies are helpful in uneven terrains and insurgency-hit areas where camera installation is impossible," Ujwal, project scientist, Tiger Cell, WII, said.
NTCA senior official Amit Malik said this genetic profiling of tigers will help in identifying footprints of the big cats in areas where camera trapping is tough.
"Scats will give us an indication of the numbers and help us identify distribution and footprints of tigers in abnormal terrains and naxal-affected areas. We are doing this for the first time," Mr Malik said.
For the first time, India will be presenting a sub-continent report on tiger count in association with bordering countries- Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, the NTCA official also said.
With the census report expected to be released by March-end, wildlife officials are anticipating a sharp rise in tiger population across the country.
The WII says the report is expected to be released in May-end.
Y V Jhala, senior scientist, Tiger Cell, WII, said the process of tiger census began in October 2018 and is about to get over but the results are expected at the end of May. He said it is an exercise that covers 18 tiger reign states with 50 tiger reserves along with areas beyond these reserves where tigers can be found.