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Let’s count bison - one, two, three

ROHINI RAMAKRISHNAN

The wildlife census is important for it paves the way to good wildlife management.

Photo: M. Govarthan

Beauty in the forest: How many.

It must have easily weighed a 1000 kg, a good six feet in height and its curved horns glinted wickedly in the sunlight. Every step the group took, the bison stepped with them. The group stopped, the bison stopped. The deadly walk began again and stopped, till the group gave up.

“We were completely unnerved by this strange behaviour of the bison and decided to stay put as we all were well aware that bison in herds were relatively safe while a lone one was something to be beware of,” said K.V.R.K. Thirunaranan of The Nature Trust who takes part in the wildlife census in the country. The nation-wide synchronised census is taken in every state by the Forest Department which is sent to the central government and the census is eventually released by the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun and the Ministry of Environment and Forest.

Walking together

The National Parks in Nagerhole, Bandipur, Mudhumalai, Wynad, The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, The Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary, Kalakkad and Mundanthurai come under the South Indian Centres where these census are conducted. Thiru explained that there were three kinds of census — direct, indirect and the third was taken at the waterholes where the wildlife came to drink. Thiru also explained how a “nil” census was important — when they did not spot any animal— as this paved the way for good wildlife management, why in that particular terrain they did not see animals and what should be done about it.

The Amaravati range in the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary was a tough terrain but densely populated with elephants so much so that at times they — man and animal — walked together. Another hairy anecdote was remembered - a group forgot to observe the laws of the jungle and noisily clicked pictures of a herd of 13 elephants who were grazing quietly. As one they turned and charged and the whole group had to take to their heels, falling over each other and getting hurt in the process but nevertheless escaping with their lives. Thanlinji village, Manjampatti and Moongilpalam in the Kodai hills were areas where the bison walked and reportedly there was a white (albino) bison too. Herds were lead by a female and a fully grown male came at the end with the sub adults and the calves in the middle. The Guindy National Park take the census of deer and college kids are roped in to help with the same.

Census is an integral part in the world of wildlife and help to keep the wild in track.

For more information check:www.parambikulamwildlifesantuary.org http://envfor.nic.in

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