MYSURU: An Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer posted in Bengaluru has found herself in a spot after photos of her feeding a wild tusker at Gopalaswamy Hills at Bandipur Tiger Reserve (BTR) started floating on social media. Wildlife activists have criticised the officer saying that she violated wildlife regulations.
The officer, B B Cauvery, who is currently posted as the Director, Directorate of Urban Development Department, on Thursday fed a wild tusker during her visit to the Venugopalaswamy temple atop Gopalaswamy Hills in Gundlupet taluk of Chamarajanagar district.
Onlookers, who had taken pictures of the officer feeding the tusker on the occasion of Sankranti festival, uploaded them on social media, which led to wildlife activists and others training their guns on her. While netizens criticised her for getting VIP treatment at the temple, as she had earlier served as the Deputy Commissioner of Chamarajanagar, activists pointed out that the officer had advertently or inadvertently violated wildlife regulations .
State Wildlife Board member Joseph Hoover said it was baffling that the Forest Department even allowed such a thing. “The tusker is a frequent visitor to the temple. The jumbo obviously comes to relish the goodies offered by animal-friendly temple staff. But the fallout of this could impact local communities which live on the periphery of Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
The tusker could enter hamlets expecting people to offer fruits. If, and when, there is a human casualty, the tusker will be branded as a rogue elephant, captured and consigned to an elephant camp,” he rued. He pointed out that had the Range Forest Officer of Gopalaswamy Betta range been vigilant, he would have cautioned the temple staff to avoid such offerings.
Since the tusker is a frequent visitor to the temple atop Himavad Gopalaswamy Hills in BTR, it is called as ‘Gopala Bhakta’. Commenting on the incident, BTR director S R Natesh said Forest Department officials were not at the spot at the time of the incident. “We came to know about it through social media. We are examining the case and also the role of the temple staff. We will take a suitable decision in this regard soon,” he said.