400 jumbos outside forests in Karnataka as numbers increase

To address the issue of increasing cases of conflict, the state government has formed an elephant conflict task force and a special committee to assess areas.

Published: 14th December 2022 02:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th December 2022 02:51 AM   |  A+A-

Herd of elephants image used for representational purpose. (Photo| Express)

Image used for representational purpose. (File photo| Express)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Karnataka, which boasts of being an elephant and tiger state, has been witnessing increasing cases of man-animal conflicts after the pandemic. As per the 2017 survey, the state housed 6,049 elephants, which is said to have increased to around 7,000- 7,500 now. That is not all, forest department officials said over 400 jumbos are wandering outside forest areas and have made the urban habitation their home. Of these 400, 200 are in and around Kodagu and 60-70 in Hassan with 100-150 elephants into crop raiding. Forest officials also pointed out that the carrying capacity of forests for elephants is reducing.

In some areas, one elephant occupies a territory of 1-2 sqkm, which is very dense. To address the issue of increasing cases of conflict, the state government has formed an elephant conflict task force and a special committee to assess areas which can be declared as elephant corridors. The government has also hiked the compensation for the family of elephant attack victims and for crop damage. But officials and experts state that the actual problem is not being addressed.

“If you notice, the cases of conflict increase when elections are round the corner. Problems have increased because of multiple reasons. Buffer zones are no longer maintained. With availability of IP sets, seeds and other facilities, farmers are taking up agricultural activities round the year. So elephants, which ideally follow a migratory path and return to forests, do not do so as standing crops are more favourable. There are no more community forests.

Animals have no place for refuge as there are no more common land spaces to house spill over population,” a senior forest department official told The New Indian Express. The additional enrichment outside forest areas is helping wandering elephants and leading to increase in population. The other matter of concern is illegal brewing of hooch. “If you assess closely, aged and wandering elephants are getting more into conflict,” the official added The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has also noted that Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu house the highest elephant population of over 12,000.

“Earlier Tamil Nadu would drive elephants outside their forests and Karnataka would see conflict. But now, with population in Karnataka forests also increasing, patches like Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary or others are refusing to take in elephants chased from urban areas. Another worry is female elephants in camp drawing wild tuskers,” the official added.

India Matters


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