With onset of summer, annual elephant migration begins (India)


R. Krishna Kumar, The Hindu

Date Published


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The annual migration of elephants from the Bandipur-Nagarahole landscape to the Kabini backwaters has commenced with the onset of summer and the forest fire season.

Parts of Bandipur and Nagarahole, which are replete with elephants, are bereft of these gentler giants, as they have started their movement to the Kabini reservoir in search of water and fodder.

This is an annual phenomena and India’s equivalent to the great migration of animals at Serengeti and Masai Mara in Africa.

“Herds of elephants, normally seen in Bandipur range and in the tourist circuit, are no longer there and vast swathes of the national park are bereft of jumbos,” Naveen Kumar, Wildlife Warden, Chamarajanagar, said. The elephants are in transit and a large number of the jumbos can be sighted at N. Begur, Kalkere, Moolehole ranges and other places which are on the forest route to Kabini backwaters, he added.

With backwaters being a source of perennial water, elephant herds from Bandipur, Nagarahole, Mudumalai and Wayanad are known to congregate there during summer, when water holes and fodder dry up in the national parks.

“The herds are on the move now and they will start arriving at the backwaters in a couple of week’s time. Their numbers will peak during March and the herds will stay there until a few spells of pre-monsoon rain lash the forest,” H.C. Kantharaju, Director, Nagarahole National Park, said.

“Elephants in hundreds can be sighted during the peak summer season. I counted about 35 to 40 herds along the backwaters in 2015,” Mr. Naveen Kumar said.

The elephant count rises to any where between 500 and 800 during peak summer, Mr. Kantharaju said. Besides water, elephants congregate in large numbers to feast on the fresh shoot of grass along the banks and the foreshore of the Kabini backwaters.

“When the water-level in the backwater starts to plummet, fresh grass sprout up from the moist bed and the elephants feast on them as fodder,” Mr. Kantharaju added.

Bandipur and Nagarahole national parks harbour around 2,500 to 3000 elephants between them.