Jharkhand forest department begins elephant census in Palamu Tiger Reserve, 8 sanctuaries (India)


Times of India

Date Published

RANCHI: The Jharkhand forest, wildlife and environment department began a state-wide survey on Wednesday to determine the population of wild elephants in the state.

Forest guards, officers and trackers, who have been specially trained for the census, will carry out the census in all forest divisions, including eight wildlife sanctuaries and the Palamu Tiger Reserve (PTR) till Friday.

This year’s state-level elephant survey will stand out as the first synchronised census alongside West Bengal, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. All three states have overlapping forest cover which serves as traditional migration routes for the elephants.

According to the state’s chief wildlife warden LR Singh, the surveyors will adopt three different techniques.

On the first day, the state will be divided into high, medium and low-elephant zones depending on their presence. “The zones will be further divided into blocks. Trackers and forest guards will be sent to record the population based on direct sightings,” Singh said.

He added, “The second technique will be dung transects. In this technique, surveyors estimate the population size of the elephant herd by counting dung piles and recording how often the animals defecate in a day. In the third technique the surveyors will determine the structure of an elephant herd by photographing them near water holes in protected forests.”

The synchronised survey is expected to refine the population of the elephants in the state’s forests including the Dalma wildlife sanctuary. “Earlier, herds from Dalma migrated to West Bengal and were documented in their survey. The synchronised survey will reduce duplicity in the count,” another forest official said.

Previous surveys showed a growth in elephant population — roughly 700 in 2015. But, the fast-depleting forest cover along the elephant migratory routes gave rise to rise in the number of conflicts with humans, wildlife experts said.

The state wildlife board suggested the national wildlife board to form an inter-state committee to protect elephant habitat in Jharkhand, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Odisha and reduce their conflict with humans.