The trampling to death of Satwik Shastri (24) by elephants in the Ragehalli forest area of Bannerghatta National Park revives memory of the death of J.S. Ramesh (39), IBM employee and amateur wildlife photographer, who was killed by a herd in January this year.
Deputy Superintendent of Bangalore Rural District A. Kumaraswamy told The Hindu as far as he could recall, Ramesh’s was the first such death — on January 7 — in these forests.
“The previous case took place in the eucalyptus grove near Mantapa village in Anekal taluk. The distance between the two spots may not be more than 8 to 10 km. [Both these places] fall in the same forest region,” Mr. Kumaraswamy said.
But, the circumstances under which Ramesh lost his life were different from Satwik’s. Ramesh had strayed too close to shoot pictures of a herd of elephants that had apparently been provoked by villagers who rained stones.
A resident of Ragehalli village, Ranganath, does not recall in his 45 years any incident involving trampling of humans by elephants in the surrounding forest areas other than these two instances.
“Usually hikers and trekkers don’t stay in the forest area after nightfall. They start coming in by noon and leave latest by 5 p.m. Nobody stays on in the forest area after sunset as it is not safe,” Mr. Ranganath said.
Residents of villages on the periphery of the forests are well aware of the danger that lurks in the groves after sunset, he said. “We all know that it is an elephant habitat and they can be quite unpredictable and aggressive. So, we stay clear of the forest region in the night,” he said, adding that the terrain of the forest is also treacherous with an undulating surface and ravines.