Triennial counting of herbivores in Dudhwa Tiger Reserve (DTR) has started to ascertain the number of grass-eating wild animals, a senior official said here. "Counting of ungulates or herbivorous wild animals which started on Thursday will be conducted in three phases. The first phase of census was carried out on Thursday during which 134 units of forest officials- 47 in Dudhwa, 46 in buffer zone and 41 in Katarniaghat division of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve- patrolled the nooks and corners of the forest area and recorded sightings of herbivores," Dudhwa Tiger Reserve (DTR) Field Director Ramesh Kumar Pandey. "Similar exercises would be conducted on May 16 and May 23 and analysis of data collected in all the three phases would be carried out to ascertain the number of herbivores in DTR," he said.The purpose behind the triennial herbivores census is to ascertain the number of grass-eating wild animals, he added. Herbivorous animals serve as prey-base inside the tiger reserve and help maintain the ecological pyramid in which tigers are at the top, herbivores in the middle and their habitat at the base. More the number of herbivores in the reserve, resulted in the increase in population of carnivores particularly tigers, the official said. Also, the census of herbivorous animals provides a detailed information about habitat conditions of the DTR and its ecology which ultimately helps authorities to chalk out further strategy for wildlife protection, he said. According to forest officials in the field, this year herbivorous animals of all species had been spotted in large numbers at Kishanpur, Dudhwa and in the buffer zone, which underscored the better habitat management and rich ecology of the reserve. In 2016 census, there were 2226 swamp deer, 18,247 spotted deer, 219 sambhar deer, 12,856 wild boars, 102 wild beer, 42 rhinos, 549 porcupines, 164 fishing cats, 9444 langurs, 18,846 monkeys, 1028 monitoring lizards and 2442 peacocks here.