BARIPADA: Forest officials are all set for this year’s elephant census. It will be conducted simultaneously in Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts besides West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand between June 1 and June 3. The synchronised census has been aimed at averting the overlap since pachyderms migrate across boundaries in search of fodder and water.
Regional Chief Conservator of Forests(RCCF) Anup Nayak said this time two traditional methods would be adopted to count the elephants.
“First, the sighting at the water bodies during night and the second, sightings near the camps during daytime. However, 50 per cent of the number sighted in the daytime will be taken into consideration,” he said.
The last synchronised elephant census was done in April 2010. As per census report, 551 elephants were estimated living in the forests of Similipal, Baripda, Karanjia and Rairangpur division besides 81 in Balasore forest division areas.
Officials said the assessment of the elephant population, habitat and migratory habits, besides a study of the elephant corridor were essential, especially in the wake of the increasing man-animal conflicts arising out of straying of elephants into human habitations.
Nayak said volunteers and NGO activists would be involved for transparency.
“The staff and volunteers to be involved have been briefed on the procedures and methodology to be adopted. The authorities are also doing a mapping of the forest areas to divide them into various blocks for the purpose of deploying teams in blocks,” he said.
Sources said a total of 294 units comprising three members each, including forest personnel, have been formed. While 57 units will be deployed at Baripada, 89 teams would count the elephants in Similipal, followed by 59 at Rairangpur, 67 at Karanjia and 22 units at Balasore division.
The enumerators would record the sighting of elephants including the age group as to whether the elephant is an adult, sub-adult or juvenile, herd size and sex of the animal. This would help in assessing the health of the elephants. “The dung count method adopted earlier has been stopped due to uneven numbers,” the RCF added.