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Effective habitat management in Dalma wildlife sanctuary results in rising elephant numbers

Dalma divisional forest officer CM Sinha attributed this rise in animal population to their habitat management.

ranchi Updated: Jun 03, 2019 14:30 IST
Debashish Sarkar
Debashish Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Jamshedpur
dalma wildlife sanctuary,jharkhand,elephant population at dalma sanctuary
Elephants at Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary near Jamshedpur, May 28, 2019. The increase in their numbers is a clear sign that elephants have once again started considering Dalma as a safe and conducive habitat.(HT Photo )

Over 40 check dams built inside Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary during last three years have proven to be a boon for wild animals – especially elephants. According to waterhole animal census, the number of elephants has gone up to 66 from 48 last year, forest officials said on Tuesday.

The waterhole census carried out in Dalma on May 21 and 22 at 43 waterholes spotted 66 elephants, a clear sign that elephants have once again started considering Dalma as a safe and conducive habitat. The census had found the number of elephants dropping to 48 from 95, as recorded in 2017.

The latest animal census, in fact, found number of almost all the animals in Dalma rising, except that of mongoose.

As per the census report, the number wild bears has gone up to 19 this year from last year’s 13, wild boars to 162 from 152, porcupines to 79 from 63, langoors to 40 from 38, monkeys to 552 from 496, reed squirrels to 45 from 39, peacocks to 120 from 53, rabbits to 24 from 18, snakes to 13 from four, wild vixens to nine from three and jungle fowls going up to 137 this year from 71 last year.

The census also found that the numbers of hyenas remained constant at two, wild cats at three and the number of mongoose dropping to 22 this year from 27 last year.

Dalma divisional forest officer (DFO, Wildlife) CM Sinha attributed this rise in animal population to their habitat management. “Under habitat management, we did two crucial things – increased the vegetation cover and built check dams in addition to natural water bodies and other sources of water. This ensured that animals – particularly the tuskers – got water during the dry period of April and May,” Sinha said.

Dalma forest ranger RP Singh said they had built 25 check dams inside Dalma sanctuary last year while over 40 such check dams were built during past three years. “There was no mechanism to stop rainwater from getting drained out and wasted. The existing check dams were built six years ago and were not enough to address the problem,” said Singh.

The new check dams have been built near waterholes and water flows into them through trenches. “These will also help in maintaining the level of water inside waterholes used by elephants and other animals to quench their thirst,” added Singh.

The watering holes exist at Majla Bandh, Chotka bandh, Rajdoha, Nichla Bandh and Bijli Ghati inside the 193.22 sqkm elephant abode.

Sinha added that they have almost stopped illegal tree felling and the forest dwellers are now allowed to take only the branches and leaves. “We have got 23 new forest guards and deputed them for prompt reporting of forest fire and remedial measures to stop those. Incentives have also been planned for quick response in case of forest fires. We have almost stopped hunting during Sendra. There might have been some hunting reported during Sendra recently but no net was allowed and thick forest cover has also reduced the visibility, leading to substantial drop in hunting,” said Sinha.

First Published: Jun 03, 2019 14:30 IST