Lakhimpur Kheri: Uttar Pradesh, which never had a history of resident elephants earlier, has now created a record with its first-ever census that has identified the presence of 100 elephants at the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve in the state.
Project Elephant, under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, conducted a synchronised pachyderm census in all states in May, including at Dudhwa, to determine the elephant population and demographics.
The exercise estimated at least 100 elephants at the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve. The census used direct and indirect methods. Direct methods were deployed in areas where elephants were visible easily due to high density. It was easier for the field staff and census workers to click photographs and prepare a profile of the animals. There is usually one elephant every 5 sq km to 8 sq km.
The Indirect Method, meanwhile, was done in areas where density was low and elephant sightings were less. Instead of counting elephants, the census team on foot counted piles of elephant dung.
The Dudhwa Tiger Reserve officials said that samples of dung piles have been collected and are being analysed by scientists to determine number of individual elephants and the period for which the pile had been lying at the spot.
The census technique used this time was termed ‘dung-decay’ method and has been used at 35 locations across the country, including Dudhwa. The technique has been formalised by elephant experts all over the country, and is said to have 90 per cent to 100 per cent precision.
The number of dung piles multiplied with dung decay rate and divided by average defecation gives the number of elephants in the region. On an average, an elephant defecates 14 to 16 times a day. Given the standard, if the team found 32 dung piles at a spot, it would denote two elephants.
“The detailed data would come out once the analysis is over but the estimated number of elephants in Dudhwa is 100,” said the official. Though Dudhwa has no history of resident elephants, a herd of elephants, in all possibilities from Nepal has been staying in Banke Taal of Dudhwa for the last two years. The herd has localised and is now even growing in number.