BENGALURU: The joy that residents of Bangalore Rural constituency felt when they saw water bodies in their hometowns full to the brim with dam water, was short-lived when they realised they have an elephantine problem on their hands.
Comprising the assembly segments of Channapatna, Ramanagara, Bangalore South, Magadi, Anekal and Kanakapura, the constituency residents are used to struggling for water in the summer. This year, however, brought a pleasant surprise as they found that the water bodies were seemingly unaffected by the heat. Also surprised were the jumbos who live in Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) as well as Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary.
On Thursday at 5.30 pm, displaying an uncanny accuracy for tracing out water, a herd of 30 elephants showed up at the Chikkondanahalli lake in the Kodihalli range of BNP. As protected area water holes are not on the list of water bodies to receive dam water, these pachyderms are headed for areas with more voters and consequently, more water.
Forest officials say that out of 23 elephants which came out of the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, 10-12 were driven back. But some 8-9 elephants are still happily roaming around in Sathnur and Channapatna ranges as a couple of big lakes have plenty of water.
With campaigning on in full swing, farmers are, however, busy filing complaints of elephant invasions in their villages, keeping forest officials on their toes. A forest official of Channapatna range said, “Despite our best efforts in the past few weeks, we have not been able to drive all of them back. With tanks receiving copious amounts of water from Iblur Dam, there is plenty of water, and pachyderms were found camping near Thenginakalu and Kabaala reserve forest areas. They were also attracted by banana, coconut and mango crops.”
However, the jumbos have chosen to give Kodihalli and Harohalli ranges a miss as the water here is basically treated sewage water from Bengaluru. So herds move out in search of good quality water, and enter villages. “With the destruction and fragmentation of the elephant corridor in the Bannerghatta region, conflict has escalated,” alleged activists.
They further added, “Herds are being moved indiscriminately from one part to another and are being pushed back wherever they go. In fact, we saw a group of 10-15 elephants being driven away on the Harohalli-Jigani Road, near Thattekere, by forest range staff. The staff were using hundreds of crackers and in the ensuing melee, the pachyderms were confused and terrified. Bannerghatta being the home range of elephants, couldn’t they have been peacefully led away from villages?”