Elephant population crosses 2,000-mark in Uttarakhand, around 30% rise since 2015 | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Elephant population crosses 2,000-mark in Uttarakhand, around 30% rise since 2015

Hindustan Times, Dehradun | BySuparna Roy
Jun 29, 2020 09:03 PM IST

Chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat released the fresh elephant census on Monday during the 15th State Wildlife Advisory Board meeting.

With a 29.9% increase since 2015, Uttarakhand government on Monday said that the state now has 2,026 elephants.

With a 29.9% increase since 2015, Uttarakhand government on Monday said that the state now has 2,026 elephants.(File photo)
With a 29.9% increase since 2015, Uttarakhand government on Monday said that the state now has 2,026 elephants.(File photo)

Chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat released the fresh elephant census on Monday during the 15th State Wildlife Advisory Board meeting.

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He also released the census of crocodiles and gharials, counted after a gap of 12 years in February this year. However, otters were counted for the first time in the state.

Rawat said elephants were counted in Uttarakhand for three days from June 6 to June 8. “It was found that there are a total of 2,026 elephants in the state. In 2012, there were 1,559 elephants while in 2017 there were 1,839 elephants,” Rawat said.

For the first time drones were used for counting the jumbos in the hill state. Parag Madhukar Dhakate, who is the coordinator of the forest department’s drone force, said the drones flew over forest blocks in a zigzag manner and captured images of elephants that helped in verifying the ground reports.

According to officials, Uttarakhand now has 451 mugger crocodiles (from 123 in 2008), 77 gharials and 194 otters. The officials said from 2020 -2022, the snow-leopard population will also be estimated in the state and that 23% of the state’s geographical area has snow-leopards.

For the total count of these animals, teams were trained and allotted river stretches to conduct the estimation by walking along the stretches from 9 am till 11 am, “when crocodiles and gharials come out of water to bask in the sun.” Camera traps were deployed for the estimation of otters. Indirect pieces of evidence like footprints, latrine site, grooming sites were looked into to know about the proximity of areas where otters are found, officials said.

In Uttarakhand, crocodiles are found in the Corbett landscape, Terai area, Bhanganga wetland in Haridwar, Rajaji National park and so on. The last crocodile and gharial census in Uttarakhand was carried out in 2008 by the forest department where they found 123 crocodiles and 231 gharials.

In other decisions, the board decided to seek the National Board for Wildlife’s approval for road construction projects through Gangotri National Park in Uttarkashi district, which shares border with China and ask the the Wildlife Institute of India will conduct a study elephant and tiger carrying capacity of Corbett and Rajaji tiger reserves.

The board also decided to form a committee for rationalization of the boundary of Rajaji National Park having district collectors, divisional forest officers and representatives from Wildlife Institute.

A proposal seeking permission for the transfer of forest land for construction of Saung Dam project and for expansion of Jolly Grant Airport will also be sent to National Board for Wildlife.

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