Sample data hints at a possible rise in elephant population in Karnataka (India)


The Times of India

Date Published

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BENGALURU: Two days after the conclusion of the 2017 elephant census exercise in the state, the forest department has commenced the process of collating data received from all divisions. Although the department is yet to formally announce the exact number of jumbos in the state, initial reports accessed by TOI indicate that elephant population in Karnataka has increased since the last census was conducted in 2012.
“Going by the number of elephants sighted, and other related data we have received from all forest divisions, it seems like Karnataka might retain the ‘elephant state’ tag,” said forest department officials. According to the 2012 census, Karnataka is home to 25% of the country’s elephants.

While the elephant population in the state was estimated to be 5,800 in the 2010 census, the figure rose to 6,072 in 2012. Forest department officials are optimistic of the 2017 census figures showing a further rise in the jumbo population. “In the Bannerghatta Range, which is spread over 260sqkm, the number of elephants has risen to 160 to 200, while the figures from 2012 show that the population in the range was 140,” said a forest department official.

At the Bandipur Tiger Reserve, volunteers and foresters sighted around 500 elephants during the census exercise last week. According to the 2012 census figures, the reserve had 1,600 jumbos. Expressing satisfaction with the number of tuskers sighted this year, a forest department official said, “We will extrapolate the sample data on to the entire Bandipur forest range. It seems likely that the figure will cross the population estimated last time around. At the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple (BRT) Tiger Reserve, volunteers counted 175 elephants this year, and we expect the total number there to cross the previous estimate of 500.”

However, senior officials said that the census figures could be verified only after three to four months, when the Centre will release its final report. Chief conservator of forests (project elephant) Dilip Kumar Das said it would be premature to announce the population of elephants based on the sample data the department had received.

“Data from the many divisions has to be pooled, and extrapolated for the entire state. The process has commenced, and the information we compile will be shared with other states too. The Centre will release a report on the population of elephants in the entire country ,” Das added.