Earlier, an internal survey conducted by Dudhwa authorities in 2012-13 had revealed the presence of 70 elephants in the reserve, foresters said.
This is the first time that the forest department conducted an elephant count in the reserve. However, the census was conducted on scientific lines. The data collected would be compiled by Indian Institute of Science, Bangaluru, forest officers said. This would take about five to six months.
The Indian Institute of Science would count number of elephants by determining the samples of elephant dung collected from Dudhwa. Experts believe that the number includes a few elephants that migrated to Dudhwa from Nepal and did not return home.
Elephant census was done across the country in May this time. In Uttar Pradesh, the dung decay method to count elephants was adopted for the first time. The method entails collection of dung samples from across the forest area spanning 880 square kilometers. The entire area is which is sub-divided into 35 beats, where the population of elephant is present in Dudhwa.
Forest watchers and mahouts in Dudhwa have also given their inputs based on physical sightings to determine the approximate number of elephants manually.
Sub divisional officer of Dudhwa National Park NK Upadhyaya told TOI, “The result for the scientific study will be available over the next few months. We have used the scientific method for the first time in determining the elephant census in UP. The dung samples have been collected and sent to the Indian Institute of Science. The manual data, which is not 100% correct, collected from mahouts and watchers, reveals that the elephant number could be between 129 and 137. We have also included the elephants migrated that from Nepal as they have not returned for many years and made Dudhwa their new home.”