Bengal, northeast may conduct joint elephant census

Kolkata, Aug 24 (IANS) The central government may simultaneously launch a elephant census in West Bengal and the northeastern states in 2016 to prevent repetition and avoid errors in counting, an official said on Monday.

“We have conveyed this idea to the central government in a recent meeting and when the approval comes, the counting will occur simultaneously in north Bengal and north-east Indian states since the elephants move along the corridors between these states,” said West Bengal chief wildlife warden B.R. Sharma.

Sharma said this would ensure no animal is counted twice or omitted. The next census is scheduled between February and April 2016.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, in north-eastern India, the endangered species range extends from the eastern border of Nepal in north West Bengal through western Assam along the Himalaya foothills as far as the Mishmi hills in Arunachal Pradesh.

From here it extends into eastern Arunachal Pradesh, the plains of upper Assam, and the foothills of Nagaland. Further west, it extends to the Garo and Khasi hills of Meghalaya to parts of the lower Brahmaputra plains and Karbi plateau in Assam.

In Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur, and the Barak valley districts of Assam, isolated herds occur. The elephant distribution is contiguous with those of Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar.

There are around 9,000 elephants and 22 corridors in the north-east Indian states, said Sharma.

In addition, Sharma said a plan to establish a transboundary protected area for Royal Bengal tigers across the Indian as well as Bangladesh side of Sundarbans has also been conveyed.

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