Maha: Animal census on Buddha Purnima hits COVID hurdle

Maha: Animal census on Buddha Purnima hits COVID hurdle
Aurangabad, May 5 () The annual wildlife Censusconducted on Buddha Purnima or the brightest moon night willnot take place this year amidst the concern over socialdistancing in view of the coronavirus pandemic, a seniorMaharashtra Forest department official said on Tuesday.

Though there are fresh guidelines issued for differentforest zones by the government, the department has decidedagainst conducting the animal enumeration exercise, he said.


The exercise is carried on Buddha Purnima night, whichfalls on May 7 this year, when it is easier to spot animals.

"The enumeration happens in Gautala Autramghatwildlife sanctuary spread across Aurangabad and Jalgaondistricts, and in Yedsi and Ramling wildlife sanctury inOsmanabad in Marathwada region besides in other forest areasof the state," said Deputy Conservator of Forest, Aurangabad,Raosaheb Kale.

He said social distancing was the main concern againstconducting the Census this year.

"We have 'machans' or makeshift shelters perched nearevery water body in forests. Two to three people sit atopmachans for a period of 24 hours and record theirobservations. There is a chance of (coronavirus) transmissionamong them. It may also prove dangerous for animals. This timethis census is cancelled due to the Covid 19 pandemic," hesaid.


Kale said that counting of animals is usually on roundthe year through trap cameras placed inside forests.

Environmental expert Kishor Pathak said that forestdepartment generally involves volunteers in animal Censuswhich can result into crowding.

"Forest officials can make observations by themselvesby sitting atop machans and through trap cameras," he said.

However, an activist from Amravati said that the movewas wrong. AWNSK NSK

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