BHUBANESWAR: Even as the jumbos face an increasingly tough future in the State, the Forest and Environment Department will hold the Elephant Census next month. It will be carried out over a three-day period starting May 25.
The census is conducted once in every four years and across all the eight circles of the State. The State Wildlife Wing will hold a training programme for the divisions on May 1.
The last elephant census was held in June 2012 when the State had recorded 1,930 jumbos, registering a healthy jump over the 2010 enumeration.
The Wildlife Wing has already prepared guidelines to ensure that the elephant census is carried out in a manner in which there is little scope for over-estimation and repetition.“We will ensure that census teams not only go in for direct sighting, they also record vital statistics of the jumbos. From footprint, the height can be estimated and in the bordering areas of two divisions, information can be used to eliminate repetition because the elephants move in herds,” said sources.
Besides, geo-reference of the elephant herds will also be used to keep track of migrating groups. Their location at different places on the same day thus can be verified.
However, analysts believe that this year’s census will portray a different picture in view of the increasing migration of the elephants from their old habitats because of developmental activities and disturbances.
In the last four years, several elephant herds were found to have shifted from their original habitats and moved to other locations which would give a completely different picture of their population in the census outcome. “Last year, Similipal had reported a whopping 334 elephants which did not necessarily mean it had as many. There are many groups which migrated from neighbouring habitats,” said an analyst.
The Chandaka Wildlife Sanctuary is a case in point though it gives a picture completely opposite to that of Similipal. In 2007-08, Chandaka had about 66 elephants and their number dropped to 24 in 2012, which meant many herds had moved away.
Besides, man-animal conflict also had its impact on the elephant population in some habitable but disturbed pockets such as Dhenkanal, where the pachyderms were isolated because of man-made issues and bad development planning, which not only prevented their movement but also led to deliberate electrocution cases.