Elephant conservation: Four States come together for elephant census

The news

In first such attempt, the States of Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand have decided to conduct a synchronised elephant census between May 9 and 12, 2017.

The four States together have the maximum number of human-elephant conflict-prone regions in India.

A decision to this effect was taken by senior Forest Department officials of the four States recently. As per the 2015 census, Odisha has 1,954 elephants while Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal had approximately 700, 275 and 130 elephants, respectively.

How will census be conducted?

The States will conduct the census based on an identical set of rules — using:

  1. Direct counting method. The direct counting method is based on sighting of elephants.
  2. Indirect counting method. The indirect method uses the ‘dung decay’ formula, in which the the analysis of elephant dung is used to estimate the population. This method has already been used by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

The dates have been chosen specifically as the sighting of elephants is expected to be easier on the night of May 10, 2017 — a full moon night.

Benefits of such a simultaneous census

Earlier, field officials were deputed inside a forest area for direct counting. It was expected that the entire area would be covered. But, that is not possible because of many reasons. As a result, the population was underestimated in some places while duplication was reported elsewhere.

A simultaneous census will eliminate these factors.

India’s Project Elephant

Project Elephant Project Elephant (PE) was launched in 1991-92 as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with following objectives:

  1. to protect elephants, their habitat and corridors
  2. to address issues of man-animal conflict
  3. welfare of domesticated elephants.

Financial and technical support is being provided to major elephant bearing states in the country.

Under the scheme, 100 per cent financial assistance is provided to the concerned state government for undertaking various activities for scientific management of elephant habitats.

Presently the project is being mainly implemented in 22 states/ UTs. They are:

  1. Andhra Pradesh
  2. Arunachal Pradesh
  3. Assam
  4. Chhattisgarh
  5. Jharkhand
  6. Karnataka
  7. Kerala
  8. Maharashtra
  9. Meghalaya
  10. Nagaland
  11. Odhisa
  12. Tamil Nadu
  13. Tripura
  14. Uttarakhand
  15. Uttar Pradesh
  16. West Bengal
  17. Rajasthan
  18. Andaman & Nicobar
  19. Bihar
  20. Punjab
  21. Gujarat
  22. Haryana (An elephant rescue centre has been set up supported by Project Elephant)

There are 32 notified Elephant Reserves in the country.

As per the 2015 census, the number of wild elephants in India is around 30,000. There was an increase between 2007 and 2012. They usually live in elephant reserves, but they also have passage through human habitation, known as elephant corridors. Of these elephant corridors, 138 are intra-state, 28 inter-state and 17 involve Bangladesh, Bhutan, Mynamar and Nepal and are thus international.

In a single State the highest number was recorded in Kerala ( about 7000 elephants), followed by Assam (about 5500 elephants)