Elephant Census: Here’s your chance to volunteer with the forest department (India)


Vinay Lokesh, Times of India

Date Published

If you fancy wildlife and elephants are a special subject of interest, here’s something that may catch your fancy. The state forest department is inviting applications from wildlife enthusiasts to participate in the elephant census. “Volunteers who are interested in participating in the census will be trained after fulfilling the formalities, before they start working with forest officials,” says an official.

The census is set to begin in May and will provide a clear picture about the pachyderm population in the state, in the wake of frequent man-animal conflicts every year. The state forest department recently conducted a preliminary meeting that was attended by top forest officials.
Data to be collected across the state
Under the Mysuru Elephant Reserve, census will be conducted at the Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Bannerghatta National Park, Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, Biligiri Ranganathaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary, Madikeri, Kudremukh, Ramanagara, Chamarajangar, Mangaluru and in many other areas. Apart from Mysuru elephant reserve, census will be simultaneously conducted in other parts of forest reserves, like, for instance, Belagavi, Yellapura, Haliyal, Dandeli, Kollegal and Koppa. T Heeralal, Director of the Bandipur Tiger Reserve, says, “The exercise will be carried out for a week in May in forest areas. The date will be announced soon.”

According to the Directorate of Project Elephant, two different methods will be employed to estimate the pachyderm population size, including a direct method (sample block count) and an indirect method (line-transect dung count). To obtain data on population structure, a waterhole count is also being suggested, considering that it provides better visibility of age and sex of the animals. This year, GPS (Global Positioning System) might be used for the first time to count elephants.

Pachyderm count on the rise

According to the census report of 2012, Karnataka has more than 6,072 elephants. In 2010, the number of elephants was 5,800. Experts say that the elephant population is on the rise in the state thanks to conservation efforts. Together, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala contribute to 40% of the elephant population in the country.