Jumbos pose threat to highway users (Mysuru, India)


K Shiva Kumar, New Indian Express

Date Published

A drive on national or state highways connecting neighbouring states or visits to villages on the fringe of forest in the late evenings is not safe due to the increased movement of of elephants.

With waterholes in forest almost dry, elephants are moving around in forests more frequently than usual in search of water. This poses a threat to humans and also holds up motorists and heavy vehicles crossing the path, particularly at night. Elephants also camp on the roadside, in bushes and near trees.

Due to fear, movement of two-wheelers has considerably come down. Light and heavy vehicles including trucks go in a convoy hoping that this would keep the jumbos from attacking or causing damage to vehicles.

On a few occasions, the forest personnel and night patrolling staff are on rounds to chase away elephants and ensure smooth movement of traffic on Chamarajnagar-Sathyamanagalam road.

The night traffic ban on Bandipur-Udhagamandalam, Gundlupet-Sultan Battery, H D Kote-Manandawadi roads forces drivers to park trucks and other vehicles near the check posts and proceed in the morning. But, this has not addressed the threat as many villagers see elephants crossing highways while returning from their fields.

Sighting of elephants has become common on Chamarajnagar-Sathyamangalam road, Mysuru- Manandawadi, Nanjangud-Gundlupet,  Sultan Battery national highways, Yalandur-BR Hills, Hanur-MM Hills, Hanur-Nala Road,  Hunsur-Thittimati (Kodagu) road. Villagers have sighted herds of 13 to 15 elephants on highways near Suvaranavathi, Ramapura and Hanagarawadi. The jumbos have also raided banana plantations. Elephant herds are a common sight at Kareplaya on Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border and also near Punajanur.

It is a curfew like situation in many villages on the fringes of the forests as villagers stay indoors from 9 pm to 6 am fearing jumbo attacks.