Encroachment of the elephant corridor, shrinking forest cover, construction activities within forests and shortage of foliage are some reasons behind the frequent raids of elephants into human habitats.
Unlike other wild animals elephants use specific corridors that have been in place for centuries. Any human habitation along the elephant corridor is likely to disturb the jumbos.
They move from one area to the other in search of foliage and water. A few decades ago pachyderms did not face too many problems as human activities in forests were not as high as they are now.
The last three decades have witnessed a surge of development resulting in the submergence of a huge chunk of forests because of construction of big dams. Even elephant corridors vanished under water. Elephants felt a threat and started to raid villages.
Most farmers too started cultivating fallow land and grew crops such as sugarcane, maize and banana that are like “fast food” for pachyderms. This problem is being witnessed in villages which are situated on the fringes of forests.
As per the recent Elephant Census, the number of jumbos in Karnataka is around 6,000. On one hand, their number is increasing and on the other hand, the forest cover is shrinking.
This, according to forest officials, is a matter of worry. Construction of dams, bridges, mini-hydel projects and wind mills in forests are forcing elephants to raid villages. The most affected districts are, Mysore, Chamarajanagar, Kodagu, Hassan, Tumkur and Bangalore Rural. The problem is still severe in Sakleshpur taluk where wild pachyderms raid villages and destroy standing crops.
Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Ajay Mishra told Express that drought in two successive years and disturbance in home range are also contributing to the frequent raids of human habitat by wild jumbos.
“A large chunk of forest land had been diverted for non-forest purposes 20-30 years ago which devoid the elephant of their usual path,” he observed.