Spot check: 590 animals seen near 40 waterholes in SGNP

The number of animals counted at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) during this year’s waterhole census was 12% lower than last year.

The counting is done every year on Buddha Poornima, a full moon night, as it is relatively easy to spot animals with more natural light. It is called the waterhole census as it is conducted near waterholes, where animals are more likely to be found during the summer.

This year, 85 volunteers and 80 forest staff counted 590 animals between Saturday night (May 18) and Sunday morning. The number was lower than the 671 animals spotted in 2018; and 995 in 2017 (41%higher than this year).

“The waterhole census is not a scientific study that gives authentic data. It is just a citizen-based conservation exercise, focusing on close interaction with nature,” said Sanjay Kamble, assistant conservator of forest, SGNP, and in-charge of the census.

“The animals spotted are only those that decide to move towards these waterholes through the night,” said Kamble.

The census takers monitored 40 of the 49 artificial and natural waterholes in SGNP and on its outskirts, including Krishnagiri Upvan, Yeoor, Tulsi range, and Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, covering a total area of around 190 square kilometres.

While the presence of porcupines in SGNP is known, this is the first year when three porcupines were spotted – one each across three different ranges. “Four people were stationed at each machan [a platform erected in a tree to watch animals] overlooking waterholes,” said Kamble. “We spotted eight civet cats and two jungle cats. We know there are mouse deer in SGNP, but they were not spotted.”

Only four leopards were seen at the spots, compared to 10 last year. There were 201 spotted deer counted this year, much lower than previous years — 295 in 2018 and 392 in 2017. During the census, 119 monkeys (rhesus macaque) and 133 langurs were seen at the spots. The number of Sambar deer counted this year was 33, six more than last year (27). Wild boars, peacocks, mongoose, bats, and owls, were among the other animals spotted.

First Published:
May 25, 2019 05:00 IST

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