First-ever wildlife census to be conducted in Asola Sanctuary

| | NEW DELHI
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First-ever wildlife census to be conducted in Asola Sanctuary

Thursday, 08 April 2021 | PTI | NEW DELHI

The Delhi forest department will conduct the first-ever wildlife census in the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary in the national Capital this year, and one of its "focal points will be leopards", according to officials. The census is scheduled to start in July and will take at least three months to complete, they said.

 "It is one of the priorities for the department this year. We will try and make it a regular affair. Yearly censuses will help ascertain changes in wildlife in the area," Deputy Conservator of Forests (South Division) Amit Anand told PTI.

 The wildlife sanctuary covers 32.71 sqkm area on the southern Delhi Ridge of Aravalli hill range on the Delhi-Haryana border.

It lies in southern Delhi and northern parts of Faridabad and Gurgaon districts of Haryana and is part of the Northern Aravalli leopard wildlife corridor, which extends from the Sariska National Park in Rajasthan to Delhi Ridge.

 The objective is to ascertain how many species are present in the sanctuary, how are these distributed and what problems do they face in a particular area, Anand said.  "For example, sometimes, jackal sightings are restricted to a particular area. It could be due to some physical barrier or disturbance. Scientific interventions will be made to resolve such issues and to improve wildlife habitat with the help of census data," he said.    

The official said leopards will be one of the focal points of the census, but other species and birds are equally important.

 "No animal should be neglected," he said. "The census will help us enrich the habitat of leopards, ensuring availability of food and water," the official added.

 Sohail Madan of the Bombay Natural History Society said several leopard sightings have been recorded in the sanctuary by their staff and forest officials over the last two years.

 "There are leopards, at least, who have found habitat in the sanctuary. It could be a family, too," he said.  Anand said there is sufficient manpower available to take up the counting. Besides, the department will involve volunteers from schools and colleges.

The sanctuary will be divided into grids and teams will be formed, one for every grid, he said.

 A methodology will be prepared and these teams will be trained accordingly. The department will rope in Bombay Natural History Society and Wildlife Institute of India for training of manpower, he said.

"At present, we are procuring camera traps for this purpose. The census is likely to take at least three months to complete," he said.

The results will be published by December and the exercise is likely to be replicated in other areas of Delhi thereafter, officials said.

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