Given its proximity to Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP), a mere 20 km away from here, Bangalore's outskirts has had its share of trysts with elephant herds that have strayed from the forests.

Fragmentation of forests around the national park and encroachment of the elephant corridor are the prime reasons for jumbos straying into the city's outlying areas. Massive urban intrusions into the elephant corridor, including a ring road, have all affected elephant movement, resulting in their straying into human habitation, Forest Department officials say.

Plenty of sightings

Time and again, herds wandering into residential areas such as Hulimavu, Arakere, Turahalli and so on have been driven back into the forests. Elephants also frequent the Roerich estate at Tataguni on the city's outskirts, an area that is now witnessing development. In 1997-98, a big herd — comprising 32 elephants — came to Puttenahalli abutting J.P. Nagar. Some time ago, elephants, which had strayed from Magadi, were sighted near Yelahanka.

National highway

Almost every week, one or two herds are spotted crossing the national highway near Kaggalipura. Officials attribute straying of elephants into city limits to the fragmentation of the Turahalli Gudda and B.M. Kaval forests. Besides, forest patches are also found near Kengeri, Bidadi, Magadi and surrounding areas, which the elephants attempt to access.

“Though elephants came here many times, our officials were successful in driving them back without any loss of life,” Deputy Conservator of Forests B. Jayaram told The Hindu. He, however, said that crops around Bangalore have been lost due to elephant movement. “Our experienced and involved staff watch the animals' movements.”

Meanwhile, the frequency of elephant sighting in Anekal and areas around Electronics City, seems to have reduced. “In the last one-and-a-half years, instances of elephants straying into areas around Anekal from the Bannerghatta forests have come down drastically, probably due to the Forest Department's efforts,” said K.V. Lakshminarayan Acharya, a resident of Karakalaghatta village near Bannerghatta. “Otherwise, we would sight them around Anekal frequently. Quite a few people have lost their lives,” added Mr. Acharya, who himself had had a couple of close encounters with these giants.

More In: Karnataka | National