Wildlife fan? Stay up all night at this Mumbai forest to count animals
If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, you can participate in the annual wildlife census, which will be conducted in Yeoor forest on the night of April 30.
The census will be carried out at the watering holes across the forest range, where animals are most likely to be spotted as they come in search of water during rising temperatures. The wildlife division of the forest department of India conducts a wildlife census every year across wildlife sanctuaries in the country.
The department does not have enough manpower and ropes in several NGOs and volunteers to carry out the census by training them. The census will count leopards, porcupines, barking deer, rabbits, monkeys, mongoose, deer, wild boars, and observe different species of reptiles and birds. The survey has been regularly carried out during Buddha Purnima every year.
“Till now we have received around 100 applications. Participants also have to sign a form, which says that the department will not be responsible for any kind of accident or injury they encounter during this census,” said Dilip Tonde, range forest officer, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivli.
Volunteers count animals using the path finder technique. “We have to walk in a straight line for 1.5 to 2km with a compass, and count the number of animals on each side. We will note their age, sex, distance and angle from the path. Volunteers will also be stationed at the macchans near water bodies, said Tonde. They will also have to study the scats, pugmarks, animal scratches on trees, he said.
Tonde said every year they experience 1% to 2% increase in the animal population. Various city NGOs will participate in this census. “The data collected will be handed over to the forest department for analysis. The census is an educational awareness activity for citizens,” said Krishna Tiwari, an environmentalist from Thane. Kaustubh Darves, a nature expert from Thane, who has been participating in the census since the past few years, said, “The counting will be conducted at Borivli, Yeoor, Tulsi and Tungareshwar ranges. Citizens can sit on the machans with the forest guards from 5pm on Monday to 5am on Tuesday. It is a great experience for citizens.”