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Maharashtra: Wildlife lovers gear up for annual waterhole census

Updated on: 23 May,2024 07:18 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Ranjeet Jadhav |

Volunteers and forest officials will track animal sightings from machans spread across

Maharashtra: Wildlife lovers gear up for annual waterhole census

Wildlife lovers will be seated on machans to spot the wild animals

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Maharashtra: Wildlife lovers gear up for annual waterhole census

The annual waterhole census will take place at Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SNGP), and Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary (TWS) on Thursday on the occasion of Buddha Poornima. Wildlife lovers will be seated on around 29 machans to spot the wild animals.

Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) and SGNP Field Director G Mallikarjun said, “Till Wednesday afternoon, a total of 43 participants had enrolled to take part in the water hole census that will take place on Thursday. The wildlife lovers who have enrolled to participate will be sitting on a total of 29 machans in SGNP and TWS. On each machan, the two participants will be accompanied by one forest department guard and a volunteer from our Nature Interpretation Centre (NIC).”

 A machan in the core zone of SNGPA machan in the core zone of SNGP

This year the entire process of the census is being looked at by the SGNP NIC team under the guidance of SGNP Deputy Director (South), Revati Kulkarni Patil and SGNP Deputy Director (North) Uday Dhage.

A total of 11 machans are there in the Krishnagiri Upvan range and the core forest area of the Tulsi range. The 18 other machans are in the Yeoor range of SHNP and Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary.  According to Forest Department, officials, the overnight animal watch activity will start on Thursday evening.

“The participants will be gathering at a common place where our team will give them orientation about the activity. By 3.30–4 pm, the bus will start dropping the participants close to their machans. By 5 pm the animal watching will begin and it will go on till 6 am on Friday. A survey sheet will also be provided to each participant so that they can note down their direct and indirect sightings of wild animals,” said the forest department official.

Those who will be participating will be allowed to carry cameras but they will have to make sure that no high-intensity flash or torches are used, which might disturb wild animals.  The participants will be strictly instructed not to get down from the machans as it can compromise the chances of sightings.

On the night of Buddha Purnima, the waterhole census is carried out across the country at various national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and tiger reserves. This is because spotting the animals on a full moon day is easier. Those who take part as volunteers are made to sit on machans, from where they count the animals that visit the nearest waterholes. Forest guards also sit on the machans during the census, and the volunteers are not allowed to get down in the middle of the exercise, as that might lead to man-animal conflicts.

SGNP has one of the highest densities of leopards in the world and leopard is the apex predator. The other wild animals that people can spot during the census are the spotted deer, wild boar, sambar deer, small Indian civet, palm civet, rusty spotted cat, barking deer, Indian hare, mouse deer, Rhesus Macaque, Bonnet Macaque, hanuman langur, several reptiles and many species of birds.

It may be noted that last year, 433 animals were sighted during the overnight animal watch activity, which included 243 mammals.

No. of machans to be set up

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