<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To ensure a more accurate census exercise for 2017-2018 of the tigers, and other vulnerable and endangered animals in forests across India, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has decided to double the number of camera traps.The recent missive from NTCA calls for bringing down the grid size of setting up camera traps from 4 sq km to 2 sq km. India has 50 tiger reserves spread over 18 tiger range states — Maharashtra has six. The new norm will be binding on all tiger-bearing states to ensure data compatibility. The changed norms will also make sure tracking stations are doubled and robust data is generated”The grid size for camera trap set ups will now be 2 sq km. This will help us count smaller prey and non-prey animals like porcupines, mouse deer and the chousingha (four-horned antelope), and also endangered and vulnerable species. It will give us an estimate of the number of these animals, and whether their numbers are rising or falling,” an NTCA official told DNA.More camera traps will also help develop a richer repository of camera trap images of tigers, and will promote research.”The increase in captures by camera traps will increase detection probability and accuracy while decreasing the margin of error,” he said.The additional camera traps will be installed in forests from November 2017 to November 2018.The official said that the decision as taken in a recent meeting in New Delhi between NTCA officials, experts from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), wildlife wardens and field directors of tiger-range states.Camera trapping will commence from November 2017 in tiger areas, and data collection is expected to be completed and submitted by November 2018. WII will analyse data from November 2018 to January 2019. The report will be published in March 2019.Kedar Gore, Director, The Corbett Foundation welcomed the move. “Tigers cannot be studied in isolation. Its presence has to be correlated with prey species. Smaller grids and more cameras would lead to a higher probability of tigers being photo-captured,” he said.NTCA conducts a tiger census every four years. The third round was conducted in 2014, and saw 9,735 cameras deployed on 3,78,118 sq km forests in 18 tiger states, and estimated India’s tiger population at 2,226, with a minimum range of 1,945 tigers and maximum of 2,491. The increase in camera traps will help narrow down this range and make figures more exact.