| Getting counted
Bhubaneswar, May 22: The elephant census in Odisha will be conducted between June 1 and 3. The three-day exercise will cover 46 forest divisions out of the 50 forest divisions in the state.
Principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) J.D. Sharma said the census would cover all the sanctuaries and forest areas to find out the exact number of elephants.
“We had also conducted a state-level training camp for this purpose and the preparations are over for three-day long exercise,” said Sharma.
The direct sighting census method, which is being used for elephant census includes forest officials counting the number of jumbos in a particular area. Temporary bamboo shades (mancha) have been set up in some areas keeping an eye on the requirement. The method also includes dividing forest areas into various blocks to deploy teams for this purpose.
According to official sources, the focus will be on estimating the elephant population during particular seasons along with categorising the count on the basis of age (adult, sub-adult, juvenile, calf) and sex ratio in the dense forest covering around 1,29,700 sqkm in the state.
The census also aims at averting the overlap to get the exact number since pachyderms migrate across boundaries in search of fodder and water. The exercise also involves people from non-governmental organisations. The department had also conducted training camps in different circles and divisions.
“The census is of great help in observing the habits and habitats of the animals. It also requires a lot of patience as one has to wait for long to get a sight of the animal. One has to be very sure as these animals migrate and chances of overlapping becomes prominent,” said a divisional forest officer.
According to officials sources, the census conducted by Union ministry of environment and forests was initially scheduled to take place on May 7, 8 and 9 but later it was deferred to June 1.
As per the last census conducted in April, 2010, the elephant population was found to be 1886 while the population of pachyderms in the 2007 census stood at 1,862. The last census had also revealed that elephants are found in 28 out of state’s 30 districts. The only exceptions are Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara distrists.
Earlier, the state government has decided to come up with 14 elephant corridors in the state for the jumbos, which are yet to be notified. In addition to these, the state government has identified nine more corridors.
Data till February 2012 reveals that human-elephant conflict has resulted in 61 human casualties during 2011-12 whereas 57 elephant deaths have been reported during this period.