Claiming that monitoring of the population of Asian elephants suffers from a number of “shortcomings”, biologists have suggested different approaches and guidelines for designing, implementing and analysing population survey of the jumbos.
Biologists at the Centre for Wildlife Studies (CWS) and the Wildlife Conservation Society-India have published a paper where they have assessed different approaches to monitor elephants in the light of modern population estimation theory including block and waterhole counts, indirect dun-based estimation and others.
The paper reviews a number of approaches used by government agencies and biologists to monitor elephant populations at different spatial scales.
“They discuss potential sources of bias and uncertainty associated with estimates derived using each of these approaches.
“The authors make specific recommendation on what population parameter(s) to focus on at particular spatial scales, which approaches to use in specific field situations, and provide guidelines for designing, implementing and analysing population surveys for Asian elephants,” a WCS statement said.
The biologists said that monitoring populations of Asian elephants has long been recognised by them and government agencies as “critically” important to conservation and management but it continues to suffer from a number of “shortcomings”.
These shortcomings are related to poor survey design and field practices, inappropriate application of analytical approaches and a critical mismatch between the focus of monitoring programs and the spatial scale at which these have been attempted.
“Sound understanding of the distribution and abundance of a species is a prerequisite for devising appropriate policies at national scale or implementing relevant conservation actions at the grassroots,” said K Ullas Karanth, WCS-India Director of Science and a co-author of the report.