India is roaring off to conduct a tiger census which apparently is the largest survey of wildlife in the world.
The tiger study is done every 4 years, invovling a whopping 38,000 forestry officials and zoologists. They cover an amazing 155,000 square miles of terrain. And 14,000 camera traps across 18 states form a vital part of the effort. India is home to about 70% of the world's wild tiger population.
For the first time, ground staff are being co-ordinated with a mobile app called M-STrIPES. It records the staff's path through the forest and helps upload geo-tapped pictures into a central database. So it will make the whole exercise faster and more accurate.
In 2006, the first census recorded 1,411 tigers; by 2010 this had risen to 1,706; by 2014, tiger numbers had gone up again to 2,226. What's helped this rise? Tougher anti-poaching laws, new conservation initiatives and improved counting techniques.
The 2018 census will last for several months, and also count other large cats. In 2014, 11,000 leopards were counted by the census.
It gets more exciting: the 2018 census will extend beyond Indian territory to try to avoid doulbe counting big cats that cross borders with Bhutan, Napal and Bangladesh. It should also help establish the territorial spread of the animals in the sub-continent.
Can't wait to see the results!