Wild and kicking
THE recent census at the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary, Pollachi, Tamil Nadu, shows that there is a fairly steady and healthy population of endangered species in the area and some species have shown considerable increase in numbers from last year. This is a bit of good news after the spurt of tiger and elephant deaths in the last four months in various parts of the country.
The sanctuary houses a wide range of animals from the lion-tailed macaque and sloth bears to elephants and panthers and is spread across about 958 square kilometres including a national park. The annual census carried out by the forest authorities revealed that the number of gaur has increased by 250 to reach 3,800. The controversial Nilgiri tahr has also increased from last years count of 240 to 440 this year. The census also shows a healthy elephant population at about 850. Numbers of sambar are estimated to be at 2,500-2,700, cheetal at 2,200, common langur at 4,500, and the nilgiri langur at about 10,000. Also, the number of the Malabar giant squirrel is put at 2800,bonnet macque at 2,500,wild pigs at 1,450, and barking deer is put at 1,200.
Moreover, good sightings of endangered species, good sex ratio of the animals, and a sizeable prey base for predators are also said to be healthy signs fot he ecosystem. However, it is found that the numbers of tigers have not increased since the last census in 2000. The pugmark method, used for the census of the tigers, show that there is no increase in the population from the 14 counted last year.
Animals like the elephant, gaurs, langurs and the deer family needs a wide habitat to thrive. The fact that all these animals show a good population and they are spread across the protected area indicates that the forest is also in a good shape for the animals to roam at will. Forest officials claim that one of the reasons for the healthy population is the absence of fires for the last couple of years despite dry conditions.
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