CRPF men deaths in Bannerghatta bring to the fore human encroachment of animal habitat

The government’s utter failure in protecting the single contiguous elephant landscape in the south and south-western parts of the state has resulted in yet another tragic incident of man-elephant conf

Published: 10th May 2017 06:58 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th May 2017 08:36 AM   |  A+A-

A captive elephant calf trudges down to where the Neyyar river has shrunk into a thin stream at Kottoor, T’Puram, for a drink on Tuesday. | (Kaviyoor Santhosh | EPS)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: The government’s utter failure in protecting the single contiguous elephant landscape in the south and south-western parts of the state has resulted in yet another tragic incident of man-elephant conflict.

And a growing Bengaluru, which has cut into elephant corridors, has been witnessing conflict incidents where people, farmers and tourists have been caught in the path of pachyderms — usually in the morning hours around the Bannerghatta region.

According to sources in the forest department, the place where two CRPF men were trampled to death by an elephant on Sunday is the habitat of both elephants and leopards.

“CRPF wants to develop the area on a large scale and has come out with a proposal. The Kaggalipura range is part of the elephant corridor. How can such development be allowed? As it is, the shrinking habitat is leading to fatal consequences to both man and animal,” the source said.

With vanishing habitat and corridors, many herds as well as dominant males who are out on their own are at the doorsteps of human settlements. Till early this year, one herd comprising of 10-12 tuskers and maknas were seen roaming the regions from Savandurga-Kaggalipura-Bannerghatta-Tumakuru and back for the last five years.

However, only two or three of this group are left now. In January-February this year, elephants Ranga and Airawat were captured and kept in captivity, two got electrocuted, two died and two were relocated to Bandipur. Now, two bull elephants from this group have been frequenting Bannerghatta.
Wildlife experts say most of the solutions by the Forest department have been ad-hoc and so conflicts continue.

“In the last few years, we have seen solitary males and groups of bull elephants raiding fruit orchards in Bengaluru and Ramnagara divisions frequently. In the recent case, two elephants had come very close to the city — near Uttarahalli and they were driven towards Bannerghatta National Park by the forest staff a day earlier,” an expert said.

ON THE ELEPHANT TRAIL

According to Bannerghata National Park Deputy Conservator of Forests Javed Mumtaz, two bull elephants were sighted near Mysuru Road around 9.30 pm on May 5 which moved towards Kanakpura Road on May 6 morning.

On May 7, when the incident occurred at Taralu Estate, one of the elephants could not cross the barricade to enter the national park. Since it was in musth, it had come for mating purposes to the national park. The multiple barriers may have enraged the animal.

“You can’t blame the animal as it was frustrated and moreover, elephants have been using this route for many years. It is their instinct which makes them take the same route. We have all kinds of measures in place — two anti-poaching camps, EPTs, metal barrier, etc., but yet this tragedy happened. So we are thinking of putting up a solar-powered fence in this area now,” he added.

JUMBO PROBLEM

6,000 Karnataka is home to the largest population of Asian elephants

The elephant landscape is contiguous with Tamil Nadu and Kerala

Elephant corridors are badly fragmented by human settlements, agricultural fields, roads, highways, railway line, hydel projects among others

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