Elephant census will be carried out in the southern states on May 15 and 16
The Karnataka State Forest Department is gearing up for a two-day elephant census that will be conducted across most of the State's national parks and sanctuaries on May 15 and 16. The census will be simultaneously carried out in the three other southern States — Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
B.K Singh, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) told The Hindu that the elephant population in Karnataka is likely to have grown since the last census conducted in 2007 when the count stood at 5,000. “We have been seeing several elephant calves within the herds and that is a promising sign,” he said.
This would indeed be a heartening trend given the growing human-elephant conflict and a sharp increase in the number of elephants killed, primarily by electrocution, over the past five years. In 2009-10 alone, of the 132 elephants that died, 34 of them were killed, said Mr. Singh. This translates into one elephant killed for every three natural deaths.
Areas to be covered
The census, funded by Project Elephant, will cover Bannerghatta National Park, Nagarahole National Park, Bandipur National Park, BR Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary and Kudremukh National Park. Around 50 to 100 people will take part in each division. Volunteers will be enlisted, too, said Mr. Singh.
The methodology will involve block count and line transect, including direct sighting and dung count, he said. “It is important to carry out the census in all the four States on the same days in order to avoid duplication. Elephant habitats in many of these States share contiguous boundaries and the animals continuously move between them,” Mr. Singh said.
A more comprehensive all-India census will be conducted in 2012.
On Tuesday, elephant experts Raman Sukumar and Ajay Desai will brief forest officials on the methodology and safety as part of a field exercise at the Bandipur National Park.
Keywords: elephant census