How to count every elephant in Karnataka

The all-India synchronised elephant census will be held from May 16 to 19.

The all-India synchronised elephant census will be held from May 16 to 19.   | Photo Credit: M.A. Sriram

Next week, over 533 ordinary citizens will join 92 resource persons to spend four days scouring the forest floor for elephant dung or waiting, sweating, for hours, for the pachyderms to show up at waterholes.

They are all part of the All India Synchronised Asian Elephant Population Estimation.

This is a huge jump from the 100 who volunteered for the last census in 2012, and comes after the Karnataka Forest Department reached out to the public through advertisements. “This is more than we expected,” says Dilip Kumar Das, Chief Conservator of Forests (Project Elephant). “Clearly there is great enthusiasm.”

Batches of 20 to 30 volunteers will be accompanied by forest personnel and resource persons to ensure scientific rigour in data collection.

The census will cover 17 contiguous divisions, from Bannerghatta National Park to Bhadra.

Jungle lessons

Aspiring volunteers attended workshops that taught them what they would do, and how to behave in the jungle.

Veerendra Pavate, 36, a software engineer from Bengaluru, attended two workshops to increase his chances for selection. “In 2013, I participated in the tiger census,” he says, “and I have been waiting for the elephant census.”

Naveen Jayaram, 32, a psychiatrist in Whitefield, says he had applied twice for the tiger census, but was not accepted. “This is a great chance to learn from the forests, how enumeration works, and to get involved in conservation,” he said.

The Bandipur-Nagarahole-BRT stretch was the most-requested posting. “Most of the volunteers wanted to go there,” Mr. Das said, “but we had to divide the volunteers based on what the requirements were.”

The 2012 census counted more than 6,072 elephants in the state, and the 2017 exercise is expected to show a larger number.

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Printable version | Aug 14, 2020 6:13:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/how-to-count-every-elephant-in-karnataka/article18428793.ece

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