Global Positioning System (GPS) will be used for the first time to count and map elephants in the pachyderm census to be held in April-May 2017.
Forest officials and researchers will also use the first official line transect method as well as the dung decay rate assessment. Existing census methods — direct and indirect sightings and water-hole study — will also be employed.
Raman Sukumar, professor, Centre for Ecological Studies, IISc, and honorary director of Asian Elephant Research and Conservation Centre, told Deccan Herald that for the first time, a country-wide map of elephant distribution would be prepared.
“Maps will be prepared by research institutions and forest departments of all states. Beat-wise maps showing low- and high-population density areas will be prepared using GIS to demarcate block boundaries,” he said.
The decision to use GPS was taken at a recent meeting of Project Elephant attended by experts and forest officials in New Delhi. Before the start of the census, two workshops will be held in December. The dung decay rate assessment will start in April.
Forest officials say that apart from knowing populated areas, proper mitigation measures are needed to reduce man-animal conflict.
Jagat Ram, Additional Principal Chief Conservator Forests (Wildlife), said the department was aware of conflict-prone districts — Kodagu, Hassan and Mysuru. He said all efforts were being taken to reduce man-elephant conflict by erecting rails and constructing elephant-proof trenches. Acquiring land to strengthen corridors is still a major challenge, he said.
Meanwhile, an Indo-German mission team, constituted by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, visited Nagarahole and Bandipur tiger reserves on Thursday.
It inspected elephant-proof trenches and rail fences besides speaking to people living around forest areas, said S Manikandan, director of Nagarahole Tiger Reserve.