B J Hosmath, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), told TOI that training of staff and other activities has begun. “All three methods of elephant population estimation – direct count, indirect count (dung count) and waterhole count – will be employed. We are in the preparatory stage now. The actual counting exercise will begin towards the end of the year or January next year,” he said.
As per the 2012 count, Karnataka has 6,072 elephants, among the highest in the country. Kerala (5,942-6,422), Assam (5,620), Tamil Nadu (4,015) and Odisha (1,930) are other states with large elephant populations. The population estimate of jumbos is carried out for five years.
Dilip Kumar Das, chief conservator of forests, Mysuru (Project Elephant), said preparatory level training for ground level staff at elephant reserves and wildlife sanctuaries has been going on as per the environment ministry guidelines. “To begin the actual counting, we need to synchronise with the neighbouring states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu to avoid double counting. Before we start the counting exercise, we will be calling volunteers,” he said.
Karthick Satyanarayan, co-founder of Wildlife SOS, said, “Human-elephant conflict not only has a grave impact on both human and elephant lives but also results in the collapse of wild elephant populations, and intensifies negative perceptions of these majestic creatures, which can lead to violent and brutal consequences for elephants that are caught in such encounters. This needs to be tackled as early as possible.”