The Union government will for the first time this year present a unified count of the Tiger, Leopard and Elephant populations of the country, according to officials in the Union Environment Ministry.


Methods used for conducting census

Tigers are counted by deploying camera traps, identifying individuals based on stripes, as well as statistical analysis. The “head counting” method which is used for conducting elephant counting, has become obsolete and it frequently leads to double counting.


New method proposed

  • In August 2021, the Union government had made public the new population estimation protocol to be adopted in the all-India elephant and tiger population survey in 2022.
  • Under the new method, Elephant numbers would be estimated by States based on DNA analysis of their dung droppings and statistical techniques.
  • The methodology will involve three phases — ground surveys, analyses of remotely sensed data and camera traps.
  • Elephant populations using this method will be assessed for first time.
  • The procedure is routinely used for estimating tiger and leopard populations in India.


National Tiger Conservation Authority

  • Tiger survey in India is conducted by the NTCA, every four years.
  • NTCA is a statutory body, constituted under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • It was established in 2005 following the recommendation of the Tiger Task Force.
  • Objectives —
        • To provide statutory authority to Project Tiger so that compliance of its directives become legal.
        • To Foster accountability of Centre-State in management of Tiger Reserves.
        • To address livelihood interests of local people in areas surrounding Tiger Reserves.
  • Functions –
        • To approve the tiger conservation plan prepared by the state government.
        • To ensure that the tiger reserves and areas linking one protected area/tiger reserve with another are not diverted for ecologically unsustainable uses.
        • To facilitate and support the tiger reserve management in the state for biodiversity conservation.
  • Chairman — Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
  • Latest Tiger Survey — As per the latest Tiger Census conducted in 2018-19, tiger population in India has increased to 2967. India accounts for about 70% of the world’s tiger population.


Elephant Census

  • India does have an elephant census (once in 5 years), but this is largely a headcount of elephants in various elephant habitats conducted by state forest departments.
  • The last census was carried out in 2017 and concluded that India has 29,964 elephants. According to current population estimates, there are about 50,000-60,000 Asian elephants in the world, with more than 60 per cent of them in India.
  • Asian elephants are listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of threatened species.


Project Tiger

  • The Project Tiger was launched by the Government of India in 1973.
  • It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
  • Objectives —
        • To reduce factors that lead to the depletion of tiger habitats and to mitigate them by suitable management.
        • To ensure a viable tiger population for economic, scientific, cultural, aesthetic and ecological values.
  • Activities funded by Project Tiger include —
        • Anti-poaching initiatives;
        • Strengthening infrastructure within tiger reserves;
        • Habitat improvement and water development;
        • Addressing man-animal conflicts;
        • Supporting States for staff development and capacity building in tiger reserves;
        • Project Tiger has been successful in increasing the population of the tigers.


Project Elephant

  • It is a centrally sponsored scheme and was launched in February 1992.
  • Objectives —
        • To protect elephants, their habitat and corridors.
        • To address issues of man-animal conflict.
        • Welfare of captive elephants.
        • to promote not to harm elephants for their tusks.