Forest dept to use ‘dung decay’ method for jumbo census (Bijnor, India)


Harveer Dabas, Times of India

Date Published

The forest department in Bijnor is all set to start an elephant census in the district. However, instead of manually counting the number of elephants, forest department officials will examine stool samples of elephants in the area and employ what is known as the ‘dung decay’ method.

The method involves studying the level of decay in elephant dung, which helps them determine how far the animal may have gone from the spot, whether it was likely to still be in the district or had crossed over to Uttarakhand.

Giving the details, divisional forest officer M Semmaran said, “Earlier, this method was used for elephant census in south India. Now, it is being employed in hilly area also. Bijnor and some other divisions have been included for the census of elephants through this method.”

Semmaran added, “There are many factors in this method, including dung density, decay rate and defecation rate. These factors will be applied through a formula. First we will observe the movement of the elephant. Also we will see the places they frequent. After selecting the areas, we will mark elephant dung and monitor the decay rate of fresh dung piles. On marking of fresh dung piles, photographs will be taken and GPS locations recorded. The marked dung will be revisited to know their status.”

He said, “A few days ago, a training programme has been organised in Uttarakhand where I was present. For the first 3-4 months, we will study the sites of the dung and elephant counting will be carried out from May onwards.”

Officials said the dung decay method is more reliable than the manual method used earlier in Bijnor.