Jumbo census in Seshachalam hills, Koundinya Wildlife Sanctuary hints at sizeable presence

Rough estimates put the number of elephants at around 60 in Railway Kodur, Rajampeta, Sanipaya, and Balapalle ranges

May 19, 2023 08:41 pm | Updated 08:41 pm IST - RAYACHOTI/CHITTOOR

An elephant sighted in the Seshachalam hills near Rajampeta in Annamayya district on Friday.

An elephant sighted in the Seshachalam hills near Rajampeta in Annamayya district on Friday. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The three-day synchronised jumbo census has brought cheer to the Forest Department personnel of Annamayya district, with estimates suggesting the presence of about 60 elephants in Railway Kodur, Rajampeta, Sanipaya, and Balapalle ranges.

Despite the scorching summer heat, the census teams led by District Forest Officer P. Vivek crisscrossed the forest paths prowled by the wild elephants and were thrilled to spot the footprints, dung, and several vital signs of their presence.

Mr. Vivek said that the four ranges in the Annamayya district would serve as the best example for the safe habitat of the wild elephants. “Despite sporadic incidents of crop raids, these ranges are completely free from man-animal conflict. This is a very unique phenomenon,” he said.

The IFS officer felt thrilled to say that on the very first day of the census, his team had found a fresh movement of the elephants in the Balapalle range. “A massive number of about 1,000 waterholes are present in this range. The jumbo herds are gifted with ample water and fodder sources, and the chance of their moving closer to human habitations is zero,” Mr. Vivek said.

During the drive, the teams found that the core belt of the Seshachalam hills is brimming with well-filled waterholes. “Apart from this, the rivers Pincha, Cheyyeru, and Gunjana meander through the vast terrain, serving as the best habitat for the jumbos,” he added.

Another important phenomenon that has contributed to the zero level of man-animal conflict in villages surrounding the Seshachalam hills is the absence of sugarcane crops and the negligible cultivation of tomatoes.

Meanwhile, the jumbo census drive in the Koundinya wildlife sanctuary, Chittoor district, spread over 500 sq. km in Palamaner, Kuppam, and Chittoor west ranges has ended on a cheerful note, with the forest officials coming across copious signs of broken branches, footprints, and dung. “We have also seen some of the elephants playing in waterbodies. As per a rough estimate, we have 50 to 60 resident elephants in the Palamaner range,” said Nayeem Ali, Forest Range Officer (Palamaner).

In Kuppam, Forest Range Officer Y.C. Reddy said that the census drive had gone well at the forest beats in the tri-State junction. “The region has about 11 resident jumbos,” he said.

The forest officials said that the findings of the synchronised census were currently under scrutiny and would be subjected to some vital scientific investigation, before arriving at comprehensive and conclusive estimates.

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