BENGALURU: With another elephant death in Bandipur, the number of deaths by electrocution has risen to 14 in the last one year. Even as Karnataka celebrated World Elephant Day in a big way, elephant deaths have continued to rise.
Elephants have borne the brunt of illegal electric fencing around farmlands, especially in Bandipur-Nagarhole Region. Having the highest population density, Bandipur has 1.13 elephants per sqkm while Nagarhole has 1.54. With hundreds of villages located on the fringes, conflicts are bound to arise.
In the last two months, two elephants died due to electrocution in Bandipur. On August 12, a female elephant was electrocuted at Doddabaragi village adjoining the Hediyala range in Bandipur. The 15-year-old female elephant had strayed into the village and came in contact with an illegal electric fence around a farm. On June 20, a 60-year-old female was electrocuted in Chikkabaragi village.
According to range forest officials, none of the conflict preventive measures — elephant-proof trenching, rail barriers or solar fencing have been successful in keeping the animals away from human settlements. “With farmers resorting to illegal methods (powering their fences by connecting them to transmission lines), elephants are killed while trying to enter sugarcane /horticultural fields.”
Wildlife conservationist D V Girish calls for an integrated approach to tackle the rising conflict situation. He said, “The forest department should involve elected representatives, farmers, other departments, volunteers and experts to stop this wanton killing.”