Why are so many elephants dying in Kodagu District? (Kodagu District, India)


Ananya Kashyap, Bangalore Mirror 

Date Published
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In the last 15 days, six elephants died in Virajpet, Kodagu district. After two elephants were electrocuted a fortnight ago and a similar incident happening on Tuesday, animal activists and wildlife photographers are concerned.

Neeraj Bantia, a wildlife photographer, said, “It hurts when herds of elephants die of electrocution. Such incidents happen as elephant corridors aren’t well laid out.”

“Elephants usually roam around in herds. Over the years, I have witnessed them in the backwaters of Kabini, but their numbers have been dwindling due to the drought. Elephants like Mr. Kabini, a 40-year-old known for his tusks that almost touch the ground are extremely rare. Such elephants need to be taken care of as not only do they face electrocution threat, they are also vulnerable to poaching efforts,” he said.

Most activists feel the Karnataka Electricity Board has to be more careful about their lines. Santosh Narayan, a wildlife photographer and conservationist said, “This isn’t new, it has been happening on the Western Ghats side. Some people connect the electric lines directly to their fences. The Forest Department must investigate in detail. There are many private encroachments into the forest area, on the path for these animals to move. They have to ensure the animals can move freely.” 

Wildlife conservationist and natural history photographer Praveen Siddannavar said, “Elephants deaths are at its peak in Karnataka. Elephants are the most intelligent animals in the wild; however they are highly endangered species due to human – elephant conflicts. Several reasons apart from poaching have been mainly lack of water resources; these jumbos in search of water enter agriculture lands, tea/coffee estates and die due to both electrocution and dehydration. Forest departments, NGOs together with support from the estate and farm owner need to build and protect secured pathways and corridors for regular elephant movements.” He said the authorities must encourage the use of solar fencing. “Avoiding high-voltage fencing can save these animals,” he said.

The Karnataka Forest Department has taken the incident seriously. P Anur Reddy, PCCF, told BM, “We are awaiting the postmortem reports and will meet to discuss the issue. The electric transmission line had snapped and not the direct lines. This keeps happening across Kodagu during rainy days and the energy department needs to look into the matter.”