Jumbo headcount jumps to 1930 in state
TNN | Jun 28, 2012, 11.08PM IST
BHUBANESWAR: Here is some good news for elephant lovers. Odisha has witnessed a jump in pachyderm population, from 1886 in 2010 to 1930, according to the latest census report released on Thursday.
The increase has been reported notwithstanding 149 elephant casualties, primarily due to poaching and electrocution, during the last two years, officials said. In 2009-10, 51 elephants died while the pachyderm casualty in 2010-11 and 2011-12 was 83 and 66 respectively. In 2012-13, at least 21 elephants have died, officials added.
The latest headcount, conducted from June 1 to 3 in 46 of the 50 wildlife divisions (barring Mangrove forest division, Rajnagar; Puri wildlife division, Malkangiri forest division and City forest division) in the state, found 334 tuskers, 1087 females, 46 unknown and 463 calves, said forest and environment minister Debi Prasad Mishra. Two years ago, a census had found 332 tuskers, 1064 females, 42 unknown and 448 calves.
"The headcount was done based on direct sighting of elephant herds. After getting beat-wise data, the overlaps were removed at range and division levels and the final population was arrived at," the minister said.
In the three elephant reserves, namely, Mayurbhanj, Mahanadi and Sambalpur, in Odisha, 1471 elephants were found during the census in which around 7000 forest personnel and volunteers were involved.
Of the 46 divisions where census was done, no elephant was sighted in seven divisions, Kalahandi (north), Khariar, Sunabeda wildlife, Chilika wildlife, Bhadrak wildlife, Jeypore and Nabarangpur and Sambalpur (north) divisions, officials said. Of the others, 20 divisions reported increase in pachyderms and the rest recorded less elephants compared to two years ago.
To improve different habitats for pachyderms, Mishra said the government would implement an elephant corridor management plan in the state. by renovating water bodies, planting elephant-friendly fodder trees and ensuring connectivity between disjoint habitats.
Mishra, who chaired over the first governing body meeting of the Similipal Tiger Conservation Foundation, further informed that the government has decided to set up a special tiger protection force (STPF) with one assistant conservation of forests, three range officers, 18 foresters and 90 forest guards to protect tigers in Similipal forests. This, he noted, would also help in protecting elephants in Similipal. "Thirty per cent of the forest guards will be local recruits," he added.
Officials said the government is contemplating to increase the area under the Similipal Tiger Reserve from 834 sq km to 1194.75 sqkm.