"The capacity building and training of the officials and NGOs was already on for the last few months. But from today, the first phase of survey at the ground level to identify tiger habitat has begin from Karnataka," S P Yadav, DIG National Tiger Conservation Authority said.
The census in Karnataka will be completed within the next two months after which the enumeration excercise will be undertaken in Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and other states, said P R Sinha, director of the Wildlife Institute of India (WLI), which is supervising the entire process.
17 states having tiger population will be taken up for the census in the 37 tiger reserves with over 3.5 lakh men involved in the exercise.
The official said the tiger reserves in the North-East region will be covered once the weather improves there while census will be undertaken in Sunderbans tiger reserve next month.
The first phase of the exhaustive tiger census will be about the likely presence of tigers in specified areas while the second phase deals with tiger population.
The latest round of census incorporates methodologies such as camera trap, DNA analysis of tiger scat and analysing pug marks as also rake marks on trees.The camera trap methods were used extensively in the last census held three years ago as per which the tiger population in the country was projected to be in a range of 1,411 and 1,657.
Worldover experts believe there are only about 3,500 tigers left in the wild in the wake of shrinking habitat besides poaching and man-animal conflict. Just a century ago there numbers were estimated at over a lakh.
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh is confident that during the World Tiger Summit in Ranthanbore in September, the tiger census based on new methodology will be released.
"Its a huge excercise involving huge landscape. Nevertheless, preliminary indications about tiger status will be available by September," a senior official said.