294 animals spotted in 24-hr Yeoor census
THANE: Nitesh Pancholi, 32, an interior designer and a wildlife rescuer, was thrilled to spot a leopard a mere few feet away from his machan. Pancholi had volunteered for the 24-hour waterhole census conducted by the forest department during the weekend – May 21 and May 22 - to count the number of species in the Yeoor and Nagla range of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
The volunteers spotted three leopards in one night, apart from over 294 animals from various species of monkeys, deers and other mammals and reptiles. Apart from leopards, few also spotted a rare bird, the Sri Lankan frogmouth, in this survey.
Pancholi said, “We were five of us sitting on a machan near a waterhole in Yeoor. Three of us were volunteers and two were forest guards. Around 8pm, we heard monkey calls on the mountain at the opposite side of this hole and realised that a wild cat is on the hunt. There were no calls for an hour and we lost all hope of sighting the leopard.”
Luck, however, was on their side, as from the opposite side of this mountain the group saw a leopard approaching the waterhole. “I had spotted leopards
earlier in Yeoor but sighting it during a census, under the moonlight and merely 20 feet away was a thrilling experience,” he added.
Apart from this wild cat, another species which got the most attention in the census was the frogmouth bird. Krishna Tiwari, a conservationist said, “This bird is found in the Western Ghats and was regularly sighted in the Phansad sanctuary. Since last year though we are hearing its
call in Yeoor and also spotted it during the census.”
The bird is difficult to spot. It thrives on insects and the calls can be heard from dawn to dusk.
Tiwari added, “The census was not a population estimation but conducted to get an idea of how many animals can be spotted in a single night. The count shows that Yeoor has a rich biodiversity which needs to be preserved.” The forest officials claim that this is rough count and not a factual data of the number of species in Yeoor. “This is a traditional method of survey carried out every Buddha Pournima. This year, we have spotted a good number of species at various waterholes,” said a forest officer.
92 monkeys were spotted during the 24-hour waterhole census conducted by the forest department