BENGALURU: Two days after two Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were trampled to death, a sense of fear hangs heavy over the villages on the fringes of Bannerghatta National Park. The villagers dread setting out of their homes at dusk, and if they do, they carry crackers with them to scare away wild animals.
Tobias (63), a resident of Thattiguppe village which is just a km away from where the two CRPF men were trampled to death by an elephant, says, “There is no proper fencing near the forests and no villager steps out during the night. The deaths of the CRPF men have only raised fears among us.”
Elephants rampaging crops and attacking human beings have been a regular phenomenon in and around Gopalpura, Thattiguppe, Mukkodlu, Muninagar, Gullatti, Kirigavanadoddi, Taralu and other villages on the fringes of the national park.
Gopalpura resident Narasimha Reddy says, “Every day, our lives are at risk. It is inevitable for us to guard our agricultural fields at night. We carry crackers and torches to prevent attacks. We store crackers for at least six months.”
Asked whether fencing or trenches have helped prevent animals from entering the villages and agricultural fields, Narasimha Reddy said nothing has worked. “The elephants know how to get over such obstacles,” he remarked.
Hanumanthu, another farmer from the same village, says, “CRPF personnel are trained to act in such tough situations (when animals or in attacks). Just imagine our plight — we are neither trained nor can we use weapons against the animals. In the past decade, more than 10 people have been trampled to death and crops worth lakhs have been destroyed by elephants.”
Hanumanthu said the situation was worse before CRPF started its operation, but now things were better. “After CRPF started its operation at Taralu, instances of animal attacks have come down. But Sunday’s incident rattled us,” he said.