A central India government funded census of wild elephants will be conducted in the forests of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka for three days beginning May 8.

The census team includes officials from the state forest department, members from the local community and elephant lovers.

P.S. Essa, who led the Kerala census operations in 1993, 1997 and 2002, said the elephant census team has introduced significant changes in census operation and the survey is now based on more scientific principles.

He noted that the wild elephant population in Kerala had been growing over the years.

“In 2002, the census revealed that wild elephants in Kerala numbered between 3,600 and 4,000.”

Elephant expert Jacob Cheeran, however, pointed out that that the operation takes place just before the monsoon when elephants from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu migrate to forests in Kerala.

“During this time, there is serious shortage of water and temperatures in the forests in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are very high. As a result, there is large-scale migration of wild elephants from those states into Kerala,” said Cheeran.

Essa added that it was not enough to count the number of elephants. “These things should form a part of a larger elephant management policy. If not, it will have no positive effect.”