'Tiger census': Largest survey of wildlife in the world kicks off

PHOTO: A tiger photographed in Ranthambore National Park in Rajashthan, India. Zoological Society of London is helping to save the big Indian cats whose numbers are dwindling drastically.PlayAditya Singh/Barcroft India/Getty Images
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India has kicked off a massive "tiger census," which officials are calling the largest survey of wildlife anywhere in the world.

The exercises, which began this month and take place every four years, will involve 40,000 forest officials traversing about 154,400 square miles of forests with 14,000 camera traps spread around 18 states, according to the Wildlife Institute of India and India's National Tiger Conservation Authority, which conduct the census.

PHOTO: A tiger photographed in Ranthambore National Park in Rajashthan, India. Zoological Society of London is helping to save the big Indian cats whose numbers are dwindling drastically.Aditya Singh/Barcroft India/Getty Images
A tiger photographed in Ranthambore National Park in Rajashthan, India. Zoological Society of London is helping to save the big Indian cats whose numbers are dwindling drastically.

This year, India will coordinate with its neighbors Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Nepal to estimate the territorial spread of the animal in the sub-continent, an official from the institute told ABC News.

Individual tigers will be identified through the animal’s unique stripe pattern, the official said. Officials from the three neighboring countries have been trained in the methodology being used by Indian experts so that they are in sync, according to the official.

PHOTO: Indian forestry officials measure tiger paw prints during the first day of a five-day long tiger census at the Mahanada Wildlife Sanctuary, in the outskirts of Siliguri, Dec. 18, 2008. Diptendu Dutta/AFP/Getty Images
Indian forestry officials measure tiger paw prints during the first day of a five-day long tiger census at the Mahanada Wildlife Sanctuary, in the outskirts of Siliguri, Dec. 18, 2008.

The results are likely to be announced early next year, according to the tiger conservation authority.

The last census, in 2014, estimated India's tiger population at 2,226, up from 1,706 in 2010, according to the institute official. Most conservationists hope the growth trends will continue.

PHOTO: An Indian forestry official sketches a tiger paw print during the first day of a five-day long tiger census at the Mahanada Wildlife Sanctuary, in the outskirts of Siliguri, Dec. 18, 2008.Duiptendu Dutta/AFP/Getty Images
An Indian forestry official sketches a tiger paw print during the first day of a five-day long tiger census at the Mahanada Wildlife Sanctuary, in the outskirts of Siliguri, Dec. 18, 2008.

Along with tigers, the survey will also collect information on the prey population of deer and other animals.

The national tiger authority and the wildlife institute said the ground staff involved in the count would for the first time use a mobile app, called MSTripes.

PHOTO: Indian forest workers ride a boat during a week-long tiger census in the Sundarbans, March 4, 2010. Conservation group WWF India has cited saying the government estimates that there are just over 1,400 tigers left in the wild.Deshakalyan Chowdhury/AFP/Getty Images
Indian forest workers ride a boat during a week-long tiger census in the Sundarbans, March 4, 2010. Conservation group WWF India has cited saying the government estimates that there are just over 1,400 tigers left in the wild.

"The app records the staff's path through the forest and helps upload geotagged pictures into the central database. This will make the exercise speedier and more accurate," Y. V. Jhala, the senior scientist at the Wildlife Institute of India and lead on the census, told reporters last week.

PHOTO: A radio collared Bengal tiger can be seen yawning at Ranthambhore national park, one of the largest and most famous national parks on April 16, 2010 in Rajasthan, India.Aditya Singh/Barcroft India/Getty Images
A radio collared Bengal tiger can be seen yawning at Ranthambhore national park, one of the largest and most famous national parks on April 16, 2010 in Rajasthan, India.

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