Elephant Census Current Affairs

India has 27,312 elephants: 2017 Census Estimation

According to the census report, released by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) the population estimation of Asian elephant in India is around 27,312.

The census was conducted between March and May 2017 by the Asian Nature Conservation Foundation (ANCF) at the Indian Institute of Science (Bengaluru), several NGOs and independent conservationists aided the Project Elephant Directorate and forest departments of 23 states. It was first-ever synchronised all-India Elephant Population census that covered 1.10 lakh square kilometres and spanned four regions of the country: the northeast, south, east-central and north.

Key Highlights of the survey

The population estimation of Asian elephants in 2017 census is lower than from the last census estimate in 2012 (between 29,391 and 30,711). Karnataka has the highest number of elephants (6,049), followed by Assam (5,719) and Kerala (3,054).

The estimate was based on preliminary results from the first-ever synchronised all-India Elephant Population Estimation derived from the sighting-based direct count method alone. The final count will be confirmed with estimates from the indirect dung-count method in three months.

According to experts parallels cannot be drawn between 2012 and 2017 census, because in the 2012 census, various states had used different methodologies and it was not synchronised effort across the country. It might have caused errors and duplication that led to overestimation.

Comment

The 2017 census indices indicate that the elephant population is increasing including birth rate and even their geographical range has increased. However, it shows marginal increase in elephant poulation ever since the 1990s. Due to habitat fragmentation, elephants are moving out to agricultural landscapes leading to an increase in man-elephant conflict resulting in both crop damage and loss of lives of elephants.

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Four States come together for elephant census

For the first time in India, four states Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand have decided to conduct a synchronised elephant census in May 2017.

These four together have the maximum number of human-elephant conflict-prone regions in India. This decision was taken by senior Forest Department officials of the four States during a regional workshop.

Key Facts
  • These states will conduct the census based on an identical set of rules using the direct and indirect counting methods
  • The direct counting method is based on sighting of elephants while the indirect method uses the elephant ‘dung decay’ formula, in which the analysis of dung is used to estimate the population.
  • The indirect method has already been used by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Direct method can be used alone because it is not possible to cover entire area during the census
  • As per the 2015 census, Odisha has 1,954 elephants while Jharkhand has 700, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal had approximately 275 and 130 elephants, respectively.

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