An animal census planned by Goa Forest Department is expected to put to rest the uncertainty about existence of tigers in the State’s forests, says an environmentalist, demanding that mining contractors should be kept at bay while conducting the exercise.

“If the census is done scientifically then it will surely prove existence of tigers here,” Rajendra Kerkar, who brought to light tiger hunting near Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary last year, told PTI.

The exercise, that will begin next month, will be carried out by department personnel, wildlife experts and volunteers, a senior Forest Department official said.

The counting, modelled on the methodology adopted by Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII), is expected to support green activists who demand the forests in Goa to be declared tiger reserves to protect the habitat of the endangered wild animal and keep mining firms out, Mr. Kerkar said.

Mr. Kerkar said protection of sanctuaries like Mhadei, Netravali and Bhagwan Mahaveer would provide continuous corridor to wild animals. “This corridor will cover Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary of Maharashtra, Dandeli Sanctuary, Anshi National Park, certain areas of forest adjoining Tillari in Maharashtra and Radhanagari forests,” he added.