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After a three-day-long exercise of counting elephants and their dung, the mammoth task of compiling the data and extrapolating it to get the final count of the pachyderms has started. However, in some forest divisions, the rough estimates of the sightings started pouring in by evening.
In case of Bandipur Tiger Reserve, which boasted of housing around 1,600 elephants during the 2012 elephant census, around 500 jumbos were sighted by the volunteers and the staff during the three days of the elephant census. The staffers are hoping for a rise in the population as calves have also been sighted in the herds.
Volunteers and staffers counted 60 elephants at Bannerghatta National Park, which abuts Bengaluru city. During 2012, the national park was spread across 104 sq km, but now the area has increased to 260 sq km, so the staffers here are expecting the population to have increased to 200.
The staff of BRT Tiger Reserve counted 174 elephants during the three-day census exercise. The foresters in the 2012 census had revealed that the area had 500 elephants. The officials are hoping that this time too the number would hover around the same estimate as just one third of the area had been sampled.
But in case of Nagarahole and Kali Tiger reserves, even the sighting figures were not available as the staffers and volunteers were yet to compile their data. The officials from the two reserves said that the final figure would be known only after May 21. Same was the case with areas in news for man- animal conflict – Hassan and Madikeri. The officials of these two forest divisions said inputs from villagers and volunteers were being compiled which was taking time.
Shivamogga wildlife division, which counted three elephants during the 2012 census, counted the same this time also. But the staff are hoping for an increase and state that some have moved towards Kudremukh, due to water crisis in the Shivamogga region.
Heavy rainfall in most forest patches of the state on May 18 made the water hole assessment on Day Three a delightful experience for many. Some were worried with the insects around the area, when they spent their full day sitting in one location, waiting for the elephants to come. Many others were thrilled with the cool breeze and cloudy sky, making the census a delightful experience.