Joint count of elephant and big cats

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Joint count of elephant and big cats

  • For the first time this year presents a unified count of the tiger, leopard and elephant populations of the country.


  • The tiger survey is usually held once in four years and elephants are counted once in five years.
  • According to the most recent 2018-19 survey, there are 2,967 tigers in India. According to the last count in 2017, there are 29,964 elephants.

Methods Used

  • Elephant numbers would be estimated by States based on DNA analysis of their dung droppings and statistical techniques.
  • Tigers are counted by deploying camera traps, identifying individuals based on stripes, as well as statistical analysis.

Obsolete methods

  • Tiger scat and its DNA analysis is usually used only when camera traps are impractical to deploy.
  • Since elephants number more than tigers and are hard to tell apart from camera-trap images alone, it is more economical and feasible to use their dung for identification.
  • The ‘head count’ method, or one currently deployed to count elephants, was “obsolete” and frequently led to double-counting.


  • Resources, time and energy will be saved from having a common estimate.
  • This is the first time that a robust scientific method based on statistical techniques will be implemented.

Prelim Take Away

  • Project Tiger
  • Project elephant
  • Major Elephant corridors
  • NTCA