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The wildlife census is integral to the health and growth of our jungles3 min read

February 17, 2021 3 min read


The wildlife census is integral to the health and growth of our jungles3 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Last week, a wildlife census was carried out to find out just how many animals are living in North Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu.

Wait, there’s a group that actually counts all the wild animals in our jungles? Wildlife sanctuaries are massive stretches of land, so how can we be sure of the numbers? We did some digging and decided to take you through this process.

What is a wildlife census?

Much like counting how many items are in a factory or a supermarket and making a note of it – a process called taking an inventory – India conducts a wildlife census to understand its biodiversity.

This process of counting the flora and fauna in a protected area, such as a national park or a wildlife sanctuary, is conducted every four years in the country.

A wildlife census can be defined as the enumeration or counting of a particular species in a particular area/habitat in a-particular time as well as dividing them into age and sex classes, etc.

Why is it conducted?

Experts some times use count how many animals visit a watering hole at a given time to gather data

The aim of a census is not only to figure out how many animals, or the density of animals, in a particular area, but also to understand some very crucial things. This includes male-female ratio (making sure there are enough of both), age ratio (understanding how many adults and how many young ones are present), general health of the animals, and of course, increase and decrease in the population of a particular species and what could be causing it.  

It is a primary and significant step in the conservation and management of wildlife.

 Owliver’s Obscure Facts

India’s 2018 tiger census made a world record of being the largest ever camera trap wildlife survey. The census has entered the Guinness Book of World Record. The fourth edition of the census, which was carried out between 2018-19, was “the most comprehensive to date, in terms of both resource and data amassed,” according to the Guinness Book of World Record’s website.

Types of wildlife census

One method used to count the number of animals in a given area is looking at pug marks, especially of big cats

Broadly speaking, there are two kind of census conducted:

  1. Direct count – this method is either complete or incomplete.

a. Total count method – Here, all the animals in an area are counted. This method is expensive, and takes a lot of time!

b. Incomplete count method – Only a part of population is counted in this method. This is commonly used in counting the number of fish at a fishery!

2. Indirect count – Here, indirect indicators such as nests, faeces, pellets, food eaten, pug marks, etc are taken into account.

a. Marking or tagging – In this method, a number of animals are caught, marked and released, and then more animals are caught. The ratio between the number of marked and unmarked animals caught gives the estimate of the population.

Owliver’s Obscure Facts

The team that conducted the tiger census in India in 2018-2019 was so successful that the governments of Nepal and Bangladesh also requested them to conduct a similar project for their tiger populations.

Now that you know what a wildlife census is, solve the puzzle to find out what animals are counted.

Sources: Down to Earth, geographynotes.com

Photos: Wiki Commons