Male elephants reason behind rise in man-animal conflict? (India)


Mohit M. Rao, The Hindu

Date Published

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The spike in man-animal conflict near Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) is being attributed to the high density of male elephants.

In the latest incident, a wild elephant killed a forest watcher near Anekal on Tuesday night.

Three people have died in separate attacks in the park in the past one month.

“A group of eight males had come into the park from forests in Tumakuru… There is a high density of males in the forest. Some of them may be in musth (when testosterone level increases by up to 60 times),” said Sunil Pawar, chief conservator of forests, BNP.

With the park sharing a boundary with a contiguous forest of more than 11,000 sq km, experts believe it houses between 60 to 150 elephants.

Team deployed

Meanwhile, the Forest Department has deployed additional personnel to Kanaveshivapura village where a lone elephant is believed to have attacked and killed two people over the past 20 days.

At the end of June, a farmer was killed near the village. On Wednesday, Ramaiah (45), a forest watcher, was killed when his team of five attempted to drive away the pachyderm. “The elephant is still in the area and additional staff has been sent there,” said Mr. Pawar.

The Forest Department believes that the elephant migrated to the territory. Experts from Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) have been roped in to identify the animal while forest officials have contacted their counterparts in Tamil Nadu.

Angry residents

“The brief descriptions of the elephant we got from our forest watchers does not match with any known elephant in the area,” said Mr. Pawar. The anger against the increased conflicts became apparent on Tuesday night with locals blocking a road till 2 a.m. and preventing the department from sending the body for post-mortem.

Forest officials, who claimed that the protest was orchestrated by local sand transporters, on Wednesday interacted with villagers and announced a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh to Ramaiah’s kin.