According to the Forest Department, an elephant usually visits this belt in this season every year. But this time, two elephants have foraged deep into the farm fields in the five villages.
The two pachyderms are in the area since the last three days. The elephant that regularly visits the belt left the place last week without damaging crops much, the forest officials said.
A. Jagannatha Gowda, vice-president of Arasinamakki Gram Panchayat, said that the villagers have not had any problem with the visit of the single elephant to the area in the last three years. It usually passed via borders of farm fields without damaging crops much. “This time, the two other elephants have caused extensive damage to the crops. Banana plantations and coconut trees have been damaged in two places in Hatyadka and Rekya villages of the panchayat,” he said. The villagers are pressing the Forest Department to lay elephant trench along the periphery of the forest area, he added.
Banana plantations, coconut trees and arecanut plantations have been damaged in Kokrady, Aranisamakki, Shishila and Shibaje villages. “These two elephants have been moving about in the night. We are hoping these pachyderms will move into the forest in the next two days,” said Uppinangady Range Forest Officer Sandhya.
Environmentalist and trekker in the Western Ghats Dinesh Holla said that elephants are straying into the fields because of shrinking elephant corridors in the Western Ghats. The ongoing hydel power projects, mining and illegal expansion of estates in the Shiradi and the Charmadi forest areas have cut down food source for pachyderms and they are forced to come out. “They have developed taste for bananas in the fields. In the next few weeks you will see elephants coming in search of jackfruit,” Mr. Holla said.
Forest Minister B. Ramanath Rai and his department officials were not showing interest in protecting the Western Ghats which is home to a majority of the 5,000 elephants in the State, he said.