Bengaluru, Apr. 9 (BS)- With President Droupadi Murmu kick-starting Gaja Utsav at Kaziranga in Assam on the completion of 30 years of Project Elephant, Karnataka, that is home to thousands of elephants, has taken the lead to start elephant census from the third week of May for all the Southern States.
The decision was taken after holding a detailed discussion at the meeting of heads of Forest Departments of other Southern States, informed State Forest Department officers.
The Elephant Census is conducted once in five years but the census was not conducted in the year 2022. The Southern States, especially Maharashtra, had decided to take up the census. But, according to a primary estimate, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have over 12,000 elephants.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Rajiv Ranjan said: “The Elephant Census planned with IISc help is expected to be completed before the onset of rainy season. Though Karnataka has highest elephant population, the Central funds towards addressing Man-Elephant conflict and conservation is meagre, say officers and experts. Following the establishment of Mysore Elephant Reserve in 1952, Karnataka holds the pride of being among the early States to launch Elephant Reserve Area. It comprises Bannerghatta National Park, Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, M.M. Hills, Bandipur and Nagarahole Tiger Reserves, Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary and the recent Bhadra Elephant Reserve area.”
The funds received from the Central Government is too less. The Centre sets aside Rs. 7 crore to Rs. 8 crore under Elephant Project, but releases only Rs. 5 crore to Rs. 6 crore. The State Government has announced Rs. 200 crore for the maintenance of elephants, with 11,000 hectares of forest area occupied by the elephants. In the coming census even non-forest areas will also be evaluated, PCCF Rajiv Ranjan said.
Prez releases booklets
During Gaja Utsav held at Kaziranga, President Droupadi Murmu also released the booklets — Field Manual for managing Human-Elephant conflict, Management Effectiveness Evaluation of the Elephant Reserves in India and Necropsy and carcass disposal of Asian elephant.
The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) officers said: “This is the booklet on autopsy, as it helps in finding out the exact reason for death and how to dispose the carcass. It has been publicised that the carcass must be kept to feed the vultures. However, to ensure that the carcass wouldn’t be prone to poaching, the tusks will be burnt, but still there is a need to be keep a vigil on the carcass.”
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