Dung decay vital for elephant census

The DDR should start six months before the elephant census starts.
Elephant census.
Elephant census.

BENGALURU: As the southern states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh started the three day long elephant census on Thursday, May 23, experts and scientists pointed that there is a need to include the dung decay rate (DDR) method for the statistics.

Karnataka had started the DDR assessment from April, experts pointed that this should be done annually, in all states, instead of once in five years.

Noted elephant expert R Sukumar, who is helping in the assessment, told TNIE that the DDR assessment will give a clearer picture, help understand the landscape, climate change, weather, rainfall pattern, the jumbo’s health and their migratory pattern. “Since the weather and habitat will vary in each state, long-term assessment will help draw a pattern and a trend,” he added.

The DDR should start six months before the elephant census starts. It should be done on a regular basis, and a log should be maintained. It is a long term exercise, where the field staff should first find fresh dung, mark it, and assess it every two weeks.

Explaining the need of the elephant population estimation, Sukumar said, a standard methodology and bench mark is being followed for uniform assessment in all the states. The exercise will help in better conflict management and improve co-ordination among the states. Compared to other parts of the country, elephant management is better in the southern states. The number of deaths and habitat loss is also less, he added.

Experts had suggested the ministry of environment forests and climate change (MOEFCC) for inclusion of the DRR assessment technique, but any decision is yet to be taken.

The elephant census in being conducted in 10 forest divisions of Kolar, Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, MM Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, BRT Tiger Reserve, Bannerghatta National Park, Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Nagarahole Tiger Reserve, Madikeri Territorial division, Madikeri Wildlife Sanctuary and Virajpet. A total of 65 forest ranges and 563 beats are being assessed by 1,689 staffers.

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