Though the focus will be on tigers, census would also enumerate elephants, leopards, tigers, Indian gaur, sambar deer, spotted deer, barking deer and mouse deer, besides civet cats.

The five-day census to enumerate the wildlife population is all set to begin in the 958 sq km area spread over six ranges of Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) from Wednesday.

Talking to The Hindu, Field Director of ATR Rajiv K. Srivasatava said that nearly 100 people including Forest Department staff, NGO volunteers, nature enthusiasts and environmentalists will be involved in the exercise. The staff and other volunteers will be divided into teams of three or four and will be involved in carrying out the census in Amaravathy, Udumalpet, Pollachi, Valparai, Manomboly and Valparai ranges.

The personnel to be involved in census exercises will be given training on January 2, They are being equipped with the latest state-of-the-art compass, Global Positioning System (GPS) and Range Finders. The actual census on the field would be on January 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Census is carried out in tiger reserves and sanctuaries twice a year i.e., in January and May.

During this year, finer technical measures would be used for carrying out the census to ensure near accuracy of the data generated.

Though the focus will be on tigers, census would also enumerate elephants, leopards, tigers, Indian gaur, sambar deer, spotted deer, barking deer and mouse deer, besides civet cats.

The census staff would also spot, and record the presence of special and lesser known species, including weeds and invasive species, and there would be a special report on documenting these species.

The personnel would resort to line transect method, block count method and water hole counts to assess the population of wildlife Direct count (sighting) as well as indirect count (pug marks, dung and excrete) will also be considered.

The data generated will help the ATR officials to assess the health of the habitat and revisit the conservation and wildlife and forest management strategies and strengthen them.

Visitors will be not allowed into the reserve on the five days.

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