Jumbo rules in tiger hotbed Corbett
Seema Sharma,TNN | Aug 22, 2015, 09.56 PM IST
According to the estimation exercise, the state has a total of 1,797 elephants which is an increase of 15% over the last estimate carried out in 2012, when 1,559 elephants were recorded.
DEHRADUN: For those who equated Corbett with just tigers, think again. As per the recent elephant estimation exercise conducted in Uttarakhand in June, Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) has emerged as one of the main bastions of elephants with the presence of as many as 1,035 pachyderms being recorded in the reserve.
According to the estimation exercise, the state has a total of 1,797 elephants which is an increase of 15% over the last estimate carried out in 2012, when 1,559 elephants were recorded. It is also a rise of almost 33% over the last census of 2007 when 1,346 elephants were counted.
Elaborating on the methodology used for the estimation exercise, Dinesh Aggarwal, state forest minister, told TOI, "The estimation was conducted in CTR, Rajaji Tiger Reserve (RTR) and 11 territorial divisions of Shivalik, Eastern & Northern Kumaon and Bhagirathi circles covering an area of 6643.5 sq km. Methodology for the estimation procedure was based on direct synchronized counts and detailed information about each elephant sighting. GPS coordinates were recorded and reviewed and collated at the Wildlife Institute of India."
The steady increase in jumbo numbers, coming as it does after a 50% increase registered in tiger sightings in Corbett, has left state wildlife officials quite ecstatic. Dhananjay Mohan, who headed the elephant population estimation exercise, told TOI, "Our effort to improve the habitat conditions in Corbett has paid off. In the last few years, special efforts were made to remove weeds and lantana here, which helped in expanding the feeding ground for elephants." Another reason, according to Anil Dutt, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), is that Corbett also has the Ramganga river, a perennial source of water for the elephants because of which the ranges situated close to it, such as Dhikala and adjoining Sardpuli also accounted for 242 and 193 elephants respectively.
Incidentally, the state's adult male-to-female elephant ratio (there are roughly twice as many females than males) is also one of the healthiest in the world, which indicates that elephant poaching is considerably controlled in Uttarakhand vis-a-vis other elephant-dominated regions like South India where poaching has considerably skewed the sex ratio. The population structure is also encouraging with nearly a fourth of the population under five years of age, which indicates a good breeding potential and a promising future for the pachyderm population in the state, according to officials.