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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar/Kolkata, Mar 21:

For the first time, eastern and northeastern states including Odisha will participate in the synchronized elephant census scheduled to begin from coming Monday.

The enumeration will be conducted by deploying direct and indirect counting methods.

The first phase census in Odisha – which is part of South Bengal – will be held in the second week of April. For that, the training sessions will be organized on March 24. Besides Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh come under South Bengal territory, official sources said.

“This is the first time that four zones (north, south, east and north-eastern zone) have been demarcated to count elephants. In the all-India synchronised elephant census, the dates for northeast zone are March 27 to March 29. North Bengal is included in the northeast zone for the regional census,” West Bengal Chief Wildlife Warden, Pradeep Vyas said today.

Vyas said the simultaneous approach will eliminate duplication in counting.

“Earlier, each state used to conduct their own census. So, elephant populations often used to get counted twice or there was under-estimation,” Vyas added.

Apart from direct sighting, forest officials and experts will deploy dung-decay assessment as well for accuracy.

Dung-decay method relies on estimating the pachyderm population size by counting dung piles and understanding how often elephants defecate and how fast dung piles decay.