Forest Department gears up for ‘elephant census’

The forest department officials are gearing up for one of the most important wildlife surveys. For four days, beginning from May 16, authorities of the South Indian States along with Maharashtra, Goa and the Andamans will be taking part in an extensive exercise of counting the elephant population in their respective regions, simultaneously.

The ‘All India Synchronized Asian Elephant Census’, which is being conducted in different phases across the country, will now be held in the southern part of India. The officials will gather initial figures indicating the elephant population, further contributing to final census data. Speaking to The Hindu, B.K. Singh, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests of Wildlife Management Circle – Tirupati, elucidated the measures being taken to conduct the survey across Seshachalam.

“We have been mapping instances of elephant sightings in the area, based on data gathered by the officials across the years [on their respective beats in Seshachalam]. This would help us pinpoint the locations and evolve a strategy for population estimation. Our focus would be on Chamala valley, Mamandur (Tirupati Wildlife Range), Balapalle and Kodur regions,” he added.

Migratory population

With respect to the population on the migratory corridor of the Koundinya Wildlife Sanctuary situated to the west of Chittoor district and other contiguous habitats, Mr. Singh said the synchronised counting would take care of duplication and result in an accurate figure. The officials would employ methods such as block count (also referred to as direct count), waterhole count and others to obtain an estimate. “With the help of waterhole count, we can get the composition of the herd which would be helpful in assessing the population and distribution in the area. As per our sightings, elephant herds in Seshachalam are quite healthy, as they are sustaining over palatable species in a conducive environment,” he said.

Deputy Conservator of Forests B.N.N. Murthy said they would focus on increasing the number of sampled areas for an accurate number….

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