The synchronised elephant population estimation will be conducted from May 17 to 19 in the forest areas of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
In Tamil Nadu, the estimation will be conducted in 465 blocks across 25 forest divisions. Forest personnel, such as anti-poaching watchers, forest watchers, forest guards, foresters, rangers and volunteers from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) will be involved in the survey.
In the run-up to the population estimation, all those involved will be given formal training by experts, according to the Forest Department. A manual has been prepared and sent to all the divisions on the procedures to be followed for the estimation, which will be conducted through different methods on each day.
The survey will include 40 to 45 blocks in the Cauvery North and South Wildlife Sanctuaries in the Hosur Forest Division. Hosur, where 499 elephants were recorded in the last survey in 2017, is known to have a considerable elephant population, apart from the Sathyamangalam, Mudumalai and Anamalai Tiger Reserves. Training will be imparted to field staff, volunteers and members from the NGO Kenneth Anderson Nature Society on May 13 at the Hosur forest office.
A block count survey will be undertaken on May 17. The next day, an indirect survey will be carried out in the same blocks by walking along identified transect lines of 2 km and identifying the elephant dungs on both sides of the line. On May 19, a waterhole census will be conducted to identify the herd composition of the elephants coming to the waterbodies in those blocks. Once the above estimation is completed, all the filled data sheets will be sent to the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve to be compiled, according to the department.
The data from Tamil Nadu will be harmonised with the neighbouring States as they are contiguous landscapes for elephant movement, said Chief Wildlife Warden Srinivas R. Reddy. The State estimated a population of 2,761 elephants in the 2017 survey. The estimation, usually conducted once every four years, was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.