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After Tiger, Bandipur Records Maximum Elephant Population Too 

Indian Masterminds Stories

Just ahead of World Elephant Day, the Bandipur National Park of Karnataka achieved another milestone. The park which is part of the western ghats and a heaven for flora and fauna recorded the maximum number of elephant in the state. With 1116 mean elephant population and 1289 upper number of elephants, Bandipur might be number one in the country. 

The recently released census report by Karnataka Environment and Forest Minister Eshwar Khandre shows the elephant population of the state to be 6395. This report was the result of synchronised elephant population estimation, from 17-19 May this year in three states that include Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The same exercise was followed by Andhra Pradesh too. This report adds the achievement of Bandipur, which was recently declared second best managed tiger reserve in the country with the second highest number of tigers in India after Corbett with 150 resident tigers and 191 tigers utilizing Bandipur as its territory. 

Field Director of Bandipur Dr. Ramesh Kumar P. is very happy with all these results. While speaking to Indian Masterminds, the IFS officer thanked all the frontline staff for their contribution and highlighted what would be the next plan now. 

SEPARATE CENSUS 

Normally, national elephant population estimation is done every 5 years and the last census or estimation was done in 2017. In 2022, it was attempted to be done as a part of the All India Tiger Estimation.  However, the methodology did not include the sample block count and population structure assessment. Since, these methods are very important for elephant population estimation and in understanding the population structure (sex and age classification), the southern states carried out a synchronised elephant population estimation. 

Dr. Ramesh Kumar P (Field Director, Bandipur TR)

Karnataka Forest Department conducted the Elephant Population Estimation exercise, with technical support from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), led by Prof R Sukumar, who helped in designing the exercise, training the field staff and analysis and computation of the results.

3400 PERSONNEL AND 32 DIVISIONS 

The exercise involved more than 3400 personnel from across 32 divisions in the state. Among the 32 divisions, elephants were found present in 23 divisions, on the day of counting. The total number of elephants directly counted was 2219 on the day of survey. The survey was done in 6104 sq km area. This is the first time that such a large area was covered, which makes the survey and the report more accurate, robust and dependable. 

Dr. Ramesh said that three methods were used in the process. Direct count or block count transect survey or the dung count method and waterhole count. Waterhole counting method is used to record the population dynamics of elephants, i.e., age classes, male:female ratio, etc., by counting elephants by direct sighting at waterholes and other places where elephants regularly visit.

CONCERNS MITIGATED 

The park now has maximum number of leopard, tiger and elephant and this increases the risk of spill over. However, according to the field director, the situation is under control. “Bandipur has maximum prey population of more than 25,000 deers, 7000 Sanbar deers, 5000 Indian gaurs. So, it accommodates the additional population,” said the officer. 

He also pointed out that if food is available next to their doorstep, they won’t roam in larger area and their territory may be reduced or get shrunk. Hence, the national park authorities are clearing lantana weeds and creating grasslands. Around 730 hectare of grasslands were added in the recent past which now serve as additional grazing grounds for deer and mega fauna/ herbivores like elephants & Indian gaurs. “Further, we are increasing our efforts towards mitigation of human-wildlife conflict. When these animals spill over to they human habitations, local people should know what to do, they should be aware of the do’s and don’ts. For this, programmes like the Bandipur Yuva Mitra (BYM) are already in place,” said Dr. Ramesh. 

To know more about Bandipur Yuva Mitra, read this …

https://indianmasterminds.com/features/change-makers/the-young-ambassadors-of-bandipur-national-park/)


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