Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Veteran of wildlife censuses

| TNN |
Ahmedabad: Since 1984, be it the Leopard, Wild Ass, Asiatic Lion or the Bird Census, especially at Nalsarovar, one man, Uday Vora, the conservator of forest, has been a part of each wildlife census in Gujarat. Not a simple member of the coordinating team for the wilds, Vora has been providing training, and even crunching the numbers when it comes to finalising the count of wildlife.

Vora was also a part of the two day vulture census which ended recently. During the Leopard census which concluded last Monday, Vora was posted in Dang and Narmada districts. He has been associated with five Wild Ass Census, 12-odd bird censuses in Nalsarovar, six Asiatic lion censuses, and an equal number of leopard censuses.

"It all began in 1984 when the Union government ordered a big cat census and it was taken up in Kutch. Since then, I have never looked back. The year next, I got associated with the lion census which was conducted by giving live bait to the lions. This has changed now, and we resort to counting by pug marks and direct sighting method," said Vora.
Vora said during the wild ass census the workers used to come across very rare species, but not many volunteers were aware of those. But things have changed, and according to Vora, the volunteers who are part of the census, now, are aware of other species apart from the main one being counted.

Vora was also responsible for developing a method that increased accuracy in counting of birds. He said earlier, before 1992, a very high number of pelicans and flamingoes were reported in Nalsarovar, but after using the new method, that number fell drastically. Vora's method calculates the number of birds based on the area inhabited by them.

He has also taken part in Gosabara and other wetland censuses, said Vora, observing that eliminating overlapping is a mammoth task. In the Nalsarovar Bird Census one has to check over 8,000 entries to avoid overlapping, he said. It is easier to eliminate overlapping in case of big cats and mammals, said Vora, but one has to take extra precaution during the birds census, he opined.

For example, he said, one would know that a leopard can move up to 8km-12 km and a sloth bear only 3km-4km in a day. Hence errors can be removed by looking at footprints and photo timings.

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