This year's elephant census to focus on areas outside forests

This year's elephant census to focus on areas outside forests

Officials don't expect big rise in jumbo population

This year's elephant census to focus on areas outside forests
Forest offici­a­ls and conservationists, who are gearing up for the elephant census, will focus on areas outside forests as the jumbos are seen on the outskirts of forest patches.

The department is now preparing a detailed list of the areas outside forest patches which need focus. “We have already listed some areas in the Mysuru and Dandeli belts. We are also covering Tumakuru, Ramanagaram, Mandya and Hassan,” Dilipkumar Das, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Project Elephant, told DH.

Das said that unlike the last census, where different states were covered on different dates, this time it will be done in all South Indian states on the same day. This will help ensure that the migrating elephants are also counted.

Officials and conservationists hope that the population this time will be almost same as the one during the last census (6,000, highest in India) despite the death of several animals. According to Forest department records, in the last five years 515 elephants died a natural death, while 68 met with unnatural death because of electrocution, shooting, man-animal conflict and poaching.

Kishan Singh Sugara, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), said that he did not expect any sudden rise in population. “It should be stable. Though there have been deaths, births have also been reported. This time, during the census, more attention will be given to areas where cases of conflict have been very high,” he said.

Favourite crops
One cannot say that since the number of conflict cases are high, the population is more. Elephants are coming out of forest areas because farmers are growing the favourite crops of jumbos in the areas bordering forest patches. The corridors are also being encroached upon, which is leading to conflict, Das added.

 Raman Sukumar, noted elephant expert and professor at IISc, said the drought factor could play a role in the census. But this time the census will be more accurate as dung decay rate analysis has been incorporated in addition to counting of animals.
Workshops for training the staff and volunteers are also under way.

The dung decay rate analysis started in 2016. Preference is being given to volunteers who have participated in earlier census. Census from May 17-19
The Elephant census will be conducted between May 17 and 19. Training will be imparted to volunteers and preparation of elephant distribution map will be done on May 16. Training for forest staff and volunteers is going on.

One training camp was conducted at Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) on April 2. The next training session will be held on April 22 at BNP office and one each in Mysuru and Chikkamagaluru on April 25 and another in Dandeli on May 2.