Quarrying their way into elephant habitats (Bengaluru, India)


Mohit M Rao, The Hindu

Date Published

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A large quarry has come up on hills adjacent to the 566-hectare Basavanatara forest, which has seen movement of groups of elephants

Of the 149 quarries in Bengaluru Urban district, 108 licensed quarries are in the area between Savandurga forests, which harbours a large elephant population, and Bannerghatta forests.

One of the largest quarries has come up on the hills adjacent to the 566-hectare Basavanatara forest, which has seen movement of groups of elephants.

It is in this region of large-scale quarrying that the 35-year-old tusker Sidda, whose subsequent injury and agonising death had captured the attention of the city, had ‘strayed’.

Like Sidda, many other elephants that have ‘strayed’ end up being dispersed by the loud noise of blasting at these quarries.

“Previously, elephants would travel between Savandurga and Bannerghatta. But, owing to urbanisation and particularly quarrying, these elephants are now stuck in Savandurga forests… these elephants get agitated and disperse when blasting occurs,” said A.L. Dalesh, Range Forest Officer (Magadi).

Bannerghatta’s woes

The mines around sprawling Bannerghatta National Park continue to draw support from the public, with an online petition gathering steam demanding an end to the quarrying. An estimated 10 quarries have been running in Shettihalli, Ragihalli and surrounding areas in proximity to the national park. “Over 200 trucks transport the stones outside of the area every day, causing tremendous disturbance and degradation of a fragile habitat that is home to iconic endangered species,” states the petition.

Licence cancellation

Over the past two years, park officials have written at least thrice requesting for the cancellation of the licence at Shivanahalli, which they say is in the middle of a marked corridor of elephant movement.

However, officials of the Department of Mines and Geology insist that the mines are functioning legally.