Assam Forest and Wildlife officials being trained on GPS for elephant population estimation

Guwahati, Feb 22 (IANS): Assam's Forest and Wildlife Department officials are being imparted GPS (Global Positioning System) training as part of the ongoing elephant estimation 2024 exercise, officials said on Thursday.

According to officials, the satellite navigation system is being used to pinpoint the ground position of a wild elephant.

Experts from Guwahati-based northeast India’s leading biodiversity conservation organisation “Aaranyak” are imparted GPS training to Forest and Wildlife officials of Goalpara, Tinsukia and Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, and Kamrup and Chirang Forest Divisions.

Elephant population estimation has been underway since February 20 and it would continue till February 27.

Aaranyak’s senior expert Arup Kumar Das said: "We have shown GIS-based block maps of different ranges of Goalpara Forest Division. Approximately, 70 forest and wildlife officials attended the training. GPS hands-on training was provided to about 15 staff of the Goalpara Forest division with a practical session on uploading block boundaries in GPS."

He also provided GPS training to the forest and wildlife officials of Tinsukia and Dibru-Saikhowa National Park while Das, along with fellow expert Madhumita Borthakur, also imparted GPS training to officials of the Kamrup West Forest Division.

"The training was technical support for the Elephant Estimation-2024. Apart from imparting the GPS training, the Aaranyak experts also prepared Block Maps which will be helpful for elephant population estimation," Das said.

He said that the GPS training programmes greatly enhances the ability to accurately record GPS locations of elephant sightings inside each estimation block, aiding in conservation efforts as well as habitat management.

In addition to GPS training, GPS essential mobile app training has also been imparted which will be useful for field work. Moreover, a practical session was organised on "uploading block boundaries in GPS using basecamp software" for elephant estimation, the expert said.

Aaranyak’s Secretary General and CEO Dr Bibhab Kumar Talukdar said that the objective of the elephant estimation is to guide conservation efforts by assessing populations’ health, habitat requirements and formulating strategies for alleviating human-elephant conflicts.

According to the latest census in 2017, India is home to 27,312 elephants and of them, Assam is home to 5,719 elephants, the second largest pachyderm population in India after Karnataka (6,049).



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