More than 100 foresters from Bengaluru Rural and Ramanagara districts are having a tough time searching for wild elephants in the Nelamangala and Magadi forest ranges bordering Tumakuru district for the past two days. The jumbos are believed to be causing havoc in the area.
The herd of eight elephants, some of which the forest department has decided to capture, has split into small groups, posing challenge for the foresters to trace and capture them.
Mahesh Kumar, deputy forest officer, Bengaluru Rural told TOI that the foresters have spread out in the woods since Monday when the operation began but bushy patches and a split herd have been giving them a tough time. “We have been unable to capture any wild elephant so far. We are now planning to chase the elephants to the adjacent forest range and corner them. We plan to capture at least two sub-adults (10 to 20 years of age) of the elephant herd and relocate them to distant forest divisions. We plan to complete the operation within a week’s time,” said Kumar.
Dept puts drone on duty
When TOI visited the forest ranges on Tuesday to take stock of the ongoing operation, mahouts and foresters, equipped with crackers and guns, were looking for the elephants near a water body in a forest range of Kudur Hobli in Magadi taluk.
“Though we started operation in Nelamangala forest range on Monday, we couldn’t succeed in making a capture as the elephant herd moved towards the Magadi forest range. The operation was then shifted to Magadi on Tuesday, and by evening we zeroed in on two wild elephants with the help of a drone. We are confident we will be able to capture them soon,” said D Manjunath, deputy forest officer, Ramanagar.
Villagers live in fear
Villagers in and around Shivagange hillock and Magadi, where the search operations are on, were seen visiting the forest ranges only to be stopped by cops. “The elephants should have been captured a long time ago. These jumbos have killed many people and destroyed our crops. Mere financial compensation is not enough. We live in fear and many of us have even stopped growing crops,” said Gopal S, a farmer from Seegepalya near Shivagange.
Another villager Muneshwarappa K said that the elephant herd would camp near Shivagange, off Tumakuru Road, because of the presence of a perennial water body. “We live in constant fear of elephant attacks,” he said.
The ongoing operation to capture the elephants in the Nelamangala and Magadi forest ranges is the second such exercise after 2014 when about 25 elephants were captured in Alur, Hassan, and were shifted to different camps.
8 | Wild elephants in the herd
4 | Districts where the elephants are found to be in conflict with humans (Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru Rural, Ramanagar & Tumakuru)
2 | Sub-adult wild elephants which forest dept wants to capture
5 | Trained elephants brought from Mysuru & Madikeri for the operation
Around 100 | Foresters roped in from Ramanagar and Bengaluru Rural forest divisions
31 | Veterinarians who are part of the operation
Elephant herd turf | Bannerghatta, Kodihalli in Ramanagara, Kaggalipura, Kanakapura Road, Kumbalgodu, NICE Road stretch near Magadi Road, Savandurga, Shivagange, Dobbespet & Tumakuru
15 | People who died in man-jumbo conflicts in the past 17 years
3 | Elephant deaths in the region since last fortnight
25 | Wild elephants captured in Alur, Hassan, in 2014