Second wildlife census in Chandigarh’s Sukhna sanctuary deferred to 2021

Last carried out a decade ago, the wildlife census in the city’s Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary will have to wait another year.

The UT department of forest and wildlife was to carry out the second census in April this year, but the pandemic struck and the plan had to be abandoned. Consequent to the outbreak, a lockdown was imposed and the ideal season to perform a census elapsed.

Confirming the development, Debendra Dalai, UT chief conservator of forest and chief wildlife warden, said it was tougher to spot animals in winter. “The census is season specific. We now plan to undertake the census next year, probably in March,” said Dalai.

The first census exercise at the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary, spread over an area of 26 square kilometre in the catchment area of the Sukhna Lake, was conducted in 2010 over three days. Experts from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, leading environmentalists, students from Panjab University’s biology and zoology department, and representatives from NGOs had participated. This year too, the department was to rope in WII.

Findings of 2010 census

By using direct evidence, including the animals and birds spotted in the area, and indirect evidence like foot-prints and animal faeces, nine species of mammals and 65 species of birds were accounted for.

Sambar, spotted deer (chital), pangolin (anteater), wild boar, jackal, small Indian civet, jungle cat, porcupine, Hanuman langur, rhesus monkey, Indian hare, common mongoose and three- striped palm squirrel are some of the main animals in the sanctuary.

As per the first census report prepared by WII, the estimated sambar population in the sanctuary was between 1,000 to 1,200, with an average group size between 3.39 to 10.07; peafowl population was between 900 to 1,100. Leopards were not spotted directly, though their foot marks were identified.

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