It's a census of a different sort in Bankapur Fort , Karnataka.
Volunteers from Bangalore, led and trained by Harish Bhat of the Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES) of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, came to Bankapur to be part of a peacock census, a first of its kind in India.
"There are four transect lines in the conservation reserve, which have been divided into four routes and they have been marked by red flags. Each volunteer must look for peafowls in an area of 50 metres on the both sides of the transect line," Assistant Conservator of Forests, Ranebennur, S.N. Manavalli was quoted.
Some like G.A. Ajay, a postgraduate in science from Kuvempu University, who is doing research on peafowls gave last minute tips to the volunteers and the forest personnel on how to differentiate between peacocks and peahens. "A peacock has a small body and longer legs compared to the peahen. The juvenile peafowls will have a longer tail. During this period of the year, the peacocks usually shed their tail and so they will have smaller tails," Ajay explained.
Manavalli announced the commencement of the census and asked the volunteers to take their position at the allotted transect line. Before they begun, Mr. Bhat reminded the volunteers to look for the droppings of the peafowls, predators and note down the observations.
The next two hours saw the volunteers walking along the transect lines looking for the peafowls, and noting down what they saw in the format given to them. Some even tried to take photographs without scaring away the animals.
A few journalists, environmentalists like Madhuri Devadhar, and forest officials including Malavalli went around the peripheral areas as the volunteers slowly covered the transect lines.
When they returned with their findings, there was a group discussion on what the volunteers and the forest personnel felt, their observations and suggestions. Certificates of participation were handed over to the volunteers from the Forest Department.
Harish Bhat who headed the team of volunteers told media persons that the trial was the first in the series of similar trails to be conducted for the census. "After tabulating today's observations and sightings, the next trial on the census will be planned," he said.
Though rough estimates suggest that the peafowls in the sanctuary are more than 1,000, no scientific study has yet been carried out to ascertain the exact number.