Bengal for the first time will count big herbivores such as deer and elephants while undertaking the tiger census this year, a senior forest official said on Wednesday.
Earlier, the tiger census was done solely focussing on the big cats but from this year, the population of big herbivores will be included in the count as stipulated by the All India Coordinated Tiger Census, Chief Wildlife Warden Debal Roy told PTI.
"Herbivores are important to the ecosystem inhabited by tigers. Thus, it is imperative to know how many herbivores are co-existing with tigers in a forest area," he explained.
Deer, antelopes, gaurs, rhinoceroses and elephants will be counted depending on the region, Roy said.
While the 2019-2020 census put the number of tigers in Sunderbans at 95, the Forest Department is hopeful the upcoming census that will begin in December and continue till January will throw up higher figures.
"Apart from camera trapping technique, other statistical models will be used to arrive at the most probable figure and minimum probable figure," Roy said.
"The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) will analyse the data, following the census," he said.
Sundarbans National Park, Buxa Tiger Reserve, Gorumara National Park, Jaldapara National Park and Chapramari National Park will be covered during the exercise, he said.