<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>There are 27,312 elephants across 23 states in the country, a preliminary assessment of the first-ever All India Synchronised Asian Elephant Population Estimation revealed. The elephant population is concentrated largely in the Southern region and Northeast region, making up for over 22,000 elephants. Karnataka alone is home to 6,049 pachyderms, the highest in any state. Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Dr Harsh Vardhan released the preliminary results on Saturday, World Elephant Day.The first cut estimate of elephant population is based only on direct count method, which involves direct sighting and counting of elephants in sample grid blocks, officials associated with the exercise said. Finer details on densities in specific habitats and regions are awaited in the final report. Though the estimation exercise is to undergo complete analysis of statistics, the preliminary numbers are lesser by 3,000 compared to the 2012 estimation. The 2012 estimation had found out that there were a little over 30,000 elephants across 16 states.Professor Raman Sukumar, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru and a lead collaborator on the project, however, said, “The current numbers should not compared with the 2012 population estimate as the methods were different. We adopted a uniform methods this time while the previous exercise saw states using different methods.”He added, “We have a stable population. But the real challenge is to maintain safe and clear passages for elephants. There are 101 critical elephant passages in the country.The 2017 elephant estimation exercise was carried out using the direct and indirect method, between November 2016 and May 2017. The direct method involved direct counting of elephants using the sample block counting, in grids of 4-6 sq.kms each. Additionally, elephants are also counted at spots such as salt licks and water holes. The dung-decay method, though, falls in the indirect category. As elephants are difficult to spot in dense forests, their dung comes in handy, which is found more commonly. Dung piles were assessed in a period of three-four months to study its decay rate. As per studies, elephants defecate 15-16 times a day on an average and this data is used in the mathematical formula to estimate elephant density.The dung density figure is multiplied by its decay rate and divided by the normal defecation rate. This, according to experts, throws up the density of elephants in a sample size area of 5-6 sq.kms which is used to extrapolate their density for the larger forest area.