The pugmark analysis of the elephants offers basic information to track the wild elephant migratory route, identification and census. For its study, four blocks viz, Sitapur, Lundra, Batouli (Sarguja district) and Farsabahar (Jashpur district) of northern Chhattisgarh were selected because these blocks are commonly visited by elephants and a major path route of movement of heard in inter/intra state. The most commonly consumed species belongs to family poaceae (22.58%) followed by fabaceae (19.35%) but their diet was mainly dependent on availability of seasonal food round the year and on their migration. Elephants extensively fed on Artocarpus heterophyllus, Syzygium cumini, Acacia nilotica, A. catechu, Dalbergia sissoo, Zizyphus mauritiana, Aegle marmelos and Ficus species, besides these elephants also utilized various grasses and shrubs as their food, which mainly included Dendrocalamus strictus, Cynodon dactylon etc. Elephants sometimes spent long time to feed on some particular plant species like D. strictus and Ficus species. Crop raiding, which was sporadic during the rainy season, gradually increased with more area being cultivated with the onset of monsoon. Analysis of pugmark revealed that the circumference varied from 63.80 cm to 172.70 cm whereas length x width varied from 22x20 cm to 60x55 cm, which reflects a substantial variation/differentiation of individual in heard in respect of their age, sex, size etcTherefore, management implications are needed to conserve the corridors for their long term survival and reduction of HEC. The study will be helpful to provide key information and facilitate better understating of the scenario to the forest department, policy maker and conservationist to plan, manage and improve the habitat towards the restoration and afforestation of suitable palatable species preferred by elephants of northern corridors of Chhattisgarh.
Asian elephant, Corridor, Feeding behavior, Habitat, Pugmark analysis
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