Odisha To Conduct DNA Profiling For Elephant Census

Bhubaneswar: Adopting a new scientific method, Odisha’s Forest Department has plans to conduct DNA profiling of elephants in the state as part of the elephant census 2022 in order to achieve greater accuracy in the counts.

With the help of the new mechanism, the enumerators will be able to ascertain the number of elephants moving in a particular area during the census process this time, official sources said adding that the move is in line with the approach adopted by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).

The Union Ministry is also converging elephant and tiger population estimation. Elephant and tiger census was last conducted in the state in 2017. Going by the census data of forest department, Odisha had 1,976 elephants in 2017.

Experts, however, expressed doubts over the accuracy of the number of elephants counted. The state government has, therefore, decided to conduct the census of elephants this year adopting DNA profiling method in order to get accurate figures.

The mechanism has been developed by the College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry of Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT).

Environmentalists are of the view that the methods used earlier for elephant census were not quite scientific and happened to be more of a headcount than an actual census.

Special kits will be used for conducting DNA profiling which will be done by collecting stool and skeletal remains of dead elephants. Stool of 40 elephants have so far been collected and DNA profiling of eight elephants completed.

Census happens to be a tricky exercise as elephants from Jharkhand often stray into Odisha. Inter-state movement of the animals affect the census. Now, accuracy is likely to be achieved in ascertaining the number of elephants through DNA profiling, maintain wildlife experts.

Odisha has witnessed the death of a large number of elephants in recent years. Recently, the state recorded the death of eight elephants – two from Sambalpur, four from Athagarh Forest Range and one from Satakosia Sanctuary.


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