HUBBALLI: With three incidents of elephant attacks being reported in M M Hills Wildlife Sanctuary the foresters are under pressure over regulate religious trekking activities inside the forest area.
Hundreds of pilgrims visit Naagamale shrine located deep inside the forest where they have to walk through elephant area from M M Hills and Indiganath to reach Nagamale shrine which is located in the adjoining Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary.
In the last two days, one person has lost his life and one more injured in separate elephants attacks reported in M M Hills. The experts are now calling regulated trekking of pilgrims in the elephant area so that such incidents can be avoided.
“Numbers of pilgrims walk upto Naagamale shrine as a annual ritual. As there is no road connectivity about 4 km of forest road has to be trekked by the devotees and the area has good numbers of elephants. Currently most of the devotees reach Indiganath in jeeps after which they start walking. If the trekking of pilgrims is regulated by the forest department then safety of the people can be ensured,” suggested a wildlife expert.
Rajesh Tubagere, a wildlife activist also suggested that regulating pilgrim traffic could bring down the conflict incidents with wild elephants in M M Hill sanctuary. “The numbers of tigers in the sanctuary have increased tremendously in the last few years. The sanctuary also has good numbers of elephants. Hence its important that government provides additional staff for M M Hills sanctuary for regulating trekking of pilgrims,” he said.
Similar problems are faced in other wildlife sanctuaries which witness pilgrim trekking. While some of the forests are frequented by devotees throughout the year, some forests are thronged by devotees on some special days. For instance, more than one lakh people visit Kavala caves in Kali Tiger Reserve during Shivaratri time during which the root is opened for public visit.
“Temples that are located in the forest have often become centre of wildlife conflict. During forest visits by devotees several fire cases have been reported in Bandipur, Nagarhole and other reserves. There was a proposal to shift out some of the temples located in the deep forests but the proposal was shelved as the department and villagers could not come to any decision,” informed another expert.
Unruly Tourists Cannot Be Controlled: FD
The forester working at M M Hills sanctuary express their helplessness in controlling the unruly tourists.
“Under the forest records there is no provision to trekking till Naagamale but devotees come in large numbers. Its a 16 km long trek and the area is full of elephants. The youngsters who come on two wheelers and walk through the forest cause lots of disturbance. Whenever public complaint about them they are not at the site where the crime is reported,” explained a forest officer from M M Hills wildlife sanctuary.
“Many time trespassing occurs and devotees enter the forest where there are no roads as well. Wildlife teasing incidents by tourists are on the rise. A small hamlet named Indiganath was provided with road for the benefit for local dwellers. But now they are attracting devotees through that road and left farming and opened petty shops serving tourists,” a forest officer from M M Hills wildlife sanctuary.