Elephant census begins in U’khand tomorrow

DEHRADUN: After a gap of seven years, the Forest Department in collaboration with WWF, an NGO, will conduct a fresh census of elephants from June 4.

editorial@tribune.com

Jotirmay Thapliyal

Tribune News Service

Dehradun, June 2

After a gap of seven years, the Forest Department in collaboration with WWF, an NGO, will conduct a fresh census of elephants from June 4.

The last census was done in 2007 when there were 1,364 elephants in the state. Wildlife conservationists are hoping an increase in the elephant population this time.

Chief Conservator for Forests (Wildlife) Dhananjaya Mohan, who is supervising the census, said the staff concerned had been given training. Strict protocols would be observed during the exercise. The results of last elephant census in 2007 came as a shock as elephant population had registered a decline. In 2005, there were 1,510 elephants in the state. However, the number reduced to 1,364 in 2007.

Conservationists said an effective conservation initiative taken by the authorities this time could lead to a rise in the population of elephants this time. Dr AK Singh, a senior WWF official, said they had taken effective conservation measures in the past few years. He said they were hopeful of a rise in the elephant population in the 2015 census. He said efforts to check man-elephant conflict could also yield positive results as far as the elephant count was concerned.

After tigers, elephant species face a big challenge in terms of conservation. Fragmentation of forests has led to the dismantling of their habitat. Deaths of elephants in poaching and accidents have been a big challenge for the wildlife authorities. It is not just poachers who target elephants but also dwellers in areas surrounding forests who come in direct confrontation with elephants.

However, the forest authorities have taken several initiatives to check the cases of man-elephant conflict. As part of ‘Operation Bamboo Culture’, the forest authorities have planted a number of bamboo saplings in various forest circles of the state to ensure elephants did not venture into human habitations and keep confined to forest areas.

Declining trend

The last census was carried out in 2007 when there were 1,364 elephants in the state. The results of the  census came as a shock as elephant population had registered a decline. In 2005, there were 1,510 pachyderms in the state. 

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