Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 23:
The Odisha Forest department would conduct a three-day elephant census in the state from May 26.
The census would be conducted in Nilagiri, Soro and Jaleswar forest ranges, including the Kuldiha sanctuary in Baleswar district.
A total of 49 teams having 155 personnel, including four rangers, 20 foresters, 32 guards and the Sabuja Bahini (Green Brigades) volunteers who have been imparted training, will be pressed into service for the annual survey.
The team members would watch the movement of the wild jumbos near water bodies inside the forest during the night by erecting machan (makeshift observation made of wooden shaft) on the trees.
“Out of the 49 teams, 34 teams would conduct census in Kuldiha sanctuary. The team leaders have been briefed about the mode of census, the time for observing the movement of the elephants in their respective beat areas and how to note down their observation,” said Ramesh Chandra Mohapatra, Forest ranger of Kuldiha sanctuary.
Wildlife activists, however, have expressed concern over the well-being of the personnel to be engaged for the survey during the intense heat wave sweeping the state. The Met department, it may be noted, has made it clear that there would be no respite from the scorching heat till May 30.
“Wonder how the field staff will trek inside forests to count elephants in this extreme weather ? My sympathies lie with them. Shouldn’t the Forest Department consider shifting the count by a week in order to avoid men falling victim to sunstroke?” asked well-known wildlife activist and secretary of Wildlife Society of Odisha (WSO) Biswajit Mohanty.