The city’s nature lovers can now cheer up as the Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) has been reopened for trekking. However, those looking forward to trekking this year have only until December 15 after which the dry season —which sees forest fires — begins.
The park authorities had barred trekking inside the national park in August after Satvik Shastri, a techie from Bangalore, was trampled to death by a wild elephant. Since then the Forest Department had put on hold “organised” trekking inside the forest till the elephants moved from those paths.
Three trekking paths identified by the Forest Department, ranging from 3 to 8 km, is frequented by youths and wildlife enthusiasts on weekends. They are from Uddige Bande till Ragihalli Road. Even cyclists from Bangalore take the Harohalli-Anekal-Ragihalli Road through the 112 sq km forests on holidays.
Deputy Conservator of Forests, Bannerghatta National Park, N Devaraj told Express that the department is now allowing trekking in these identified paths.
Those interested in exploring nature on foot have to approach his office for written permission. The names and addresses of trekkers will be recorded and permission will be given only after the payment of prescribed fees, he said.
“The trekkers will be taken in a batch with armed forest guards and watchers as elephants are found near these paths most of the time and the watchers are aware of the movements of the wild animals,” he said.
The sighting of elephants is quite common in the park as it connects the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary and the adjoining Tamil Nadu forests, he added.
After Satvik Shastri’s death, enquiries seeking permission for trekking had reduced fearing attacks by wild animals. Now the paths are safe for trekkers provided they are accompanied by forest guards or watchers, Devaraj said.
“We take all precautionary measures before sending trekkers inside the forests by explaining to them the do’s and don’ts. Our aim is to allow youths understand flora and fauna without disturbing nature.”