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Eliephants sighted for first time in Salem Forest Division


Salem April 29

Bringing cheers to nature lovers, pachyderms have been for the first time sighted by wildlife enumerators in the forests of Salem Division during the two day mammalian census which concluded on Sunday .

That the forests are sustaining some endangered species and bears foot prints of rare animals, has brought hopes to conservationists and the public in general, said officials.h

Elephants have been directly sighted during the survey said A.Periyasamy, the District Forest Officer. A group of them seem to have found a conducive habitat in the forests of Mettur range he said. Elephants from neighbouring districts have strayed into the forests in Salem Division occasionally or have reportedly criss-crossed the Salem forests. As on record the Salem Forest Division has no pachyderm population till now, though British gazeteers have recorded that 200 years back Salem forests had abundant of elephants and the place Annaivarimuttal in Attur forest range was an elephant camp.

As regards presence of predators, leopards are recorded in Mettur range through indirect sightings Slender Lorris an endangered primate was spotted (directly) in one of the forest ranges (the range was not officially disclosed for conservation reasons).

The animals found through direct sighting include, Asian elephant, Indian gaur, grey mangose, spotted deer, water monitor lizard and slender lorris.

The animals found present through indirect sightings include, sambar deer, black naped hare, Indian crested porcupine, jungle cat, wild boar, Indian fox and small Indian civet. The majority of wildlife that populate the Salem Forest Division are spotted deer, Indian gaur, hare mongose and wild boar. Apart from the above, cunos alphinos (wild dog) and sloth bears are also found through indirect methods said the District Forest Officer.

The survey was conducted in the seven forest ranges – Yercaud, Mettur, Danishpet, Sheveroy Noth, Sheveroy South, Kalvarayan and Valapadi. Twenty five forest staff aided by 50 volunteers spread out into 20 teams and carried out the survey for two days. The Salem Nature and Wild Life Trust and the WWF Coimbatore are supporting the survey in field data collection and documenting the same.

GPS aided random survey method was used for the wildlife count. Pug marks, hoof marks, scat etc are some of the indirect recordings. Scat samples of uncommon species have been found and have been subjected to analysis. The status of wildlife abundance or decline and the final species wise count will be known only after analysis of the data. It may take about ten days said forest officials.

Photo caption: A herd of elephants sighted during the mamal census in Mettur Forest Range.

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(Centre for Community Media)