The boy band has been involved in conflict situations over the past 17 years, devastating crops, and causing the death of 15 persons. Their turf covers areas around Bannerghatta, Kodihalli at Ramanagara, Kaggalipura, Kanakapura Road, Kumbalgodu, NICE Road stretch near Magadi Road, Savandurga, Shivagange, Dobbespet and Tumakuru town itself, which are conflict points in general. The department has decided to capture them to prevent further conflict and address the concerns of residents.
Sources in the forest department told TOI that trained captive elephants (kumkis) from Mysuru (some Dasara elephants as well), Shivamogga and other places will be brought in for the operation, which will begin in the next few weeks.
Sunil Panwar, deputy conservator of forests, BNP , confirmed to TOI, “Ideally , we shouldn’t capture wild elephants. But in order to avoid bigger problems that might emerge in future and address growing concerns of human habitats through which these elephants regularly move, we have decided to capture two young ones (15 to 20 years old) and also obtained permission,” he added.
Another forest official said they are only awaiting an expert report on the two elephants that need to be captured. “We have zeroed in on the two young elephants through camera traps and details gathered from the affected community , as they seem to be causing maximum damage.But we will proceed only when we get the actual report. In Kodihalli of Ramanagara district alone, there have been four deaths, including that of a 62year-old farmer, who was trampled by an elephant in July this year. Angry villagers had staged a protest in front of the Rama nagara forest office,” he added.
Avinash Krishnan, a re searcher with A Rocha India, a conservation group, said the elephant herd causing havoc makes for a curious case; male elephants don’t often form large bachelor groups. “Usually , the oldest female leads the group in elephant societies. While male calves are pushed out to find other herds, female calves remain in the herd. This group could be the result of dispersed males which have formed an alliance; over 17 years, their number has increased from three to 12. These elephants use the stretch between northwest of Bannerghatta National Park, the closest elephant habitat, up to Tumakuru, where people grow about 14 types of crops every year, as their feeding ground. To fulfil their biological needs, they could return to Bannerghatta to mate with wild female elephants as well as captive female groups of Bannerghatta Biological Park, which are let into the national park at night to freerange,” he added.
The problem, Avinash explains, is this particular stretch comprises largely human dominated areas and it is very difficult for forest officials as well to drive out the elephants. “There is pressure from communities living in this stretch and they want the department to act, which may have led to the decision to capture some of them,” he added.
The sad state of affairs wherein freely roaming wild elephants have to be captured in order to prevent conflict with human beings could certainly have been avoided. The situation only reflects the lacunae in wildlife and forest management in the state.Expedient operations might fix the problem for the time being, but it is not a permanent solution.The way in which the government is treating the grave issue of increasing human-elephant conflicts reflects its apathetic attitude towards the environment. The forest department needs to rope in experts and get to the crux of the problem ailing elephants.