Wildlife experts counting on Kolhan census - Regional chief conservator of forest expects numbers to increase during three-day exercise, beginning April 19

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  • Published 9.04.10

Jamshedpur, April 8: The countdown to the count up has begun.

Exactly 11 days from today, the forest department will launch its elaborate, three-day animal census in the Kolhan region, an exercise that takes place every five years.

“We will begin an animal census in the twin districts of Singhbhum and Seraikela-Kharsawan, which fall under Kolhan region, from April 19,” regional chief conservator of forests (RCCF) A.K. Gupta said.

According to Gupta, who is also the chief regional wildlife warden, during the 2005 census, predators like leopards, wolves and wild dogs, herbivores such as the Indian bison, Sambar and barking deer and arboreal animals like the sloth bear and giant squirrel, besides elephants and monkeys were sighted in the forests of Kolhan.

The wildlife warden said they were expecting the numbers, especially that of elephants, to go up this time since the forest department had taken concrete measures to check poaching in Saranda and Dalma sanctuary.

Forest officials said the census would be based on field surveys and actual sightings near waterholes. Water bodies in forests aid headcount during the summer, as all animals come there to quench their thirst at regular intervals.

“We will also try to find out whether there are big cats in Kolhan. In the last census, we had come across pugmarks in the core area of Saranda,” an official said.

Gupta maintained that the animal census would abide by the guidelines of wildlife experts from New Delhi. To make it happen, new forest officials and guards will undergo a two-day training before they join the programme.

“Wildlife census is a major exercise and those involved have to be very well trained so that there is no scope for bloomers. Accuracy is important in this programme,” Gupta said, adding that training would be given to officials and forest guards in Jamshedpur and Chaibasa on April 15 and 16, respectively.

Saranda, known both for its Sal reserve and Maoist menace, will be the unwritten focus of this year’s census.

Forest officials will be extra cautious knowing the odds against them though Gupta claimed that the ongoing special operation against rebels in Saranda, and also in Dalma hills, would not affect the exercise in any way.