BENGALURU: Thanks to the state Mines and Geology Department’s decision of shutting down 15 mining leases the movement of elephant herds can be seen in the elephant corridor area of Bannerghatta National Park (BNP). All these years, wildlife movement had come to a standstill owing to indiscriminate stone crushing and quarrying in the ESZ of the BNP. Forest field staff reported the sighting of freely moving 3-4 elephant herds as also lone tuskers in the corridor area. The pachyderms were also found frolicking in a water hole in Ragihalli near the park.
Forest officials confirm that with total reduction in noise and mining dust which was caused by incessant mining and transportation activities, not just elephants, but also also other mammals, including leopards, chital, sambar, among others can now be seen in the “silent environs” of the elephant corridor.
Urban Conservationist Vijay Nishanth, who led the campaign for BNP corridor protection says, “This is a clear indication how stone quarrying was hindering the movement of animals in the corridor area. For the last 6-7 months, the number of vehicles had increased while continuous blasting had disturbed the homing instincts of elephants. We had seen incidents of elephants straying into villages leading to man-animal conflict. Now, all this has come to a stop and may be ushering in a new era for wildlife protection.”
A visit to the Ragihalli area reveals the ground situation. Local villagers inform TNIE that on the Ragihalli Main Road, one can see frequent movement of herds after the recent shut down. There are no speeding trucks with the result, both people and wildlife have heaved a big sigh of relief, says Ramesh Dikshith, a resident of a village near Harohalli.
He adds, “Once 100-150 trucks used to ply to and fro on this road and all these years, we had never seen any elephant movement here. Further, the incessant blasting — day and night — has polluted our ground water resources while the levels too are falling. We hope with the stoppage now, health of many of us with chronic respiratory issues will improve.”
Rakshith Gowda, a naturalist who has been tracking the activities of big mammals says, “Elephant herds, chital, sambar and leopards are back in Shivanahalli and Ragihalli area. In Shivanahalli, which is very close to the elephant corridor, due to continuous movement of mining trucks and disturbance caused by mining activity, no wildlife was ever seen. However, I saw a herd of 25-30 elephants frolicking in a water hole near Kodihalli.”
A forest official of BNP added three groups of elephants had been sighted in the Harohalli range. “With minimal disturbance and no irritating sound of vehicles, each group, comprising about 5-6 animals along with 2-3 young ones, were sighted recently after the mines closure. There are 1-2 lone pachyderms which are roaming around in the corridor area.”