Forest officials and volunteers began a three-day elephant population estimation in Srivilliputtur Wildlife Sanctuary on Wednesday.
The exercise is part of the Synchronised All-India Elephant Census to be carried out across the country simultaneously.
After thorough training in the methodologies to be adopted, several teams of officials, veterinary doctors and volunteers, mostly experienced college students, numbering around 52, started the survey in select areas of the 47 square km of the wildlife sanctuary.
Forest department officials have chosen those pockets in the forest areas where elephants were sighted in the last five years.
Three types of counting
A Forest department source said three types of counting of elephants would be done during the census. First, it would be block count where direct sighting of elephants would be taken up in randomly selected 500 hectares of the sanctuary. On the second day, the team would adopt line transect dung count method.
Sighting of dung would be used to arrive at the number of elephants moving around in a particular spot.
The third way of estimation would be through water hole count. The enumerators would keep a vigil on the identified sources of water for elephants between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Among the water holes identified in the Srivilliputtur wildlife sanctuary are perennial water sources like water spread areas in the dam, water turf constructed by the forest officials and pools of water on riverbeds and percolation points.
The teams have been provided with maps of the forest area to be covered. The objective of the census is to arrive at the age and gender of the elephants in the select area.
Last time, the Synchronised All-India Elephant Census in the sanctuary was held in 2012 when around 60 elephants were accounted for.