MYSURU: People living around the area ravaged by the recent fire in Bandipur, Biligiri Ranganathaswamy Sanctuary and Nagarhole are witnessing a sudden increase in movement of wild animals.
The frightened animals are moving to safer places on the fringes of the forest, causing villagers there to spend sleepless nights. Worried about how to prevent them from entering their farms and destroying crops, the farmers have started bursting firecrackers and burning wood to scare the animals away.
However, this is not proving to be a major deterrent, as a large number of deer and elephants, left without enough water and food, have begun to raid farms and plantations. Adding to their woes, say farmers, is the roar of tigers that they hear at night. They have also spotted the pug marks of leopards near their fields, confirming their fears about the wild animals moving to places in the vicinity following the inferno.
Besides Bandipur, forest fire in Chikkaiahana Giri, Sule Betta, Katera Bavi and Michuguli Betta in B R Hills has also increased wildlife movement in Atigulipura, Siddaiahanapura, Suvaranavathi and other places over the past one week.
“How can I stop more than 200 deer, who are jumping the fence to enter my fields and eat cauliflower leaves,” asks Nagraj, a farmer, adding that they cannot scare away the animals, fearing that they may attack in panic.
Another farmer, Shivamurthy, said elephants have damaged three coconut trees on his farm. He added that the villagers are camping on the farm, anxious that the herd may cause more destruction. The forest department personnel are focused on preventing more fires than saving farmers, he alleged.
Farmers say though wildlife movement takes places in peak summer, they had not expected it to happen in the beginning of the season.
Nanjunadswamy, a farmer, said they are noticing an increase in wildlife movement in the Yedeyala and Beggur forest range. He said the fire in Gopalaswamy hills and increased human interference has sparked panic among wild animals. Another villager, Mallesh, pointed out that many watering holes have dried up.
Very few wild animals are left in Bandipur forest now, as most of them have moved to Kabini backwaters, Mudumalai and B R T Wildlife Sanctuary, and towards Sathyamanagalam forest.
Authorities feel they will return only after the forest receives heavy showers, causing a growth of grass and other plants after a couple of months. However, the safari area inside the forest, which is the main attraction for tourists, remains unaffected.