An online survey of jackals, initiated by Mysore-based Nature Conservation Foundation, began on the World Environment Day, last Sunday. The survey titled ‘Days of Jackal' will be completed in two months. Sharing details of the project, M. D. Madhusudan, Senior Scientist and Trustee, Nature Conservation Foundation, told The Hindu that the objective of the survey is to enlist researchers, wildlife enthusiasts, photographers, and common people to answer a few simple questions about jackals based on their observations. Where do jackals occur? Are they being seen as often today as in the past? What threats do jackals face in the areas where they are found? Based on answers to these questions, the organisation will be able to map the regions where jackals are found. Apart from this, population trends, and documenting the threats faced by jackals across its ranges were some of the other works, the organisation proposed to take up, Dr. Madhusudan said.

This is not the first online survey on wildlife, he said. Migrant Watch, a project coordinated by the Citizen Science Programme by Suhel Quader working in National Centre for Biological Sciences, pioneered enlisting people for observing and reporting of wild animals. Another project called Season Watch has sought to take this forward. Projects such as this online survey are valuable means of complementing field ecological research.

It becomes possible to involve non-specialists in furthering a science. There are other benefits in engaging citizens in ecology and conservation. It can, to a small extent, catalyse the renewal of connection between people and nature. Interested persons can go to www.conservation.in/jackal for more details, Dr. Madhusudan added.