What can be termed as an admirable job by the Forest Department has pushed its enthusiasm level to a new high. A concrete pond was constructed in the forest for quenching the thirst of pachyderms, big cats and other wild animals. The innovative method implemented near the popular picnic spot, Muthathi, has wild animals frequently visiting the pond for drinking water.

The scanty rainfall since past three years that resulted in severe drought has dried up most of the water bodies in the forest between Sathanur in Ramanagaram and Muthathi in Mandya district.

While pachyderms, leopards and other animals depend on the Cauvery downstream of the forest areas, a few wild elephants have been found frequently visiting the populated areas. This has worsened the man-animal conflict in the region. A few people were killed by elephants in the recent years, and many had to battle for their lives at hospitals following the attacks by elephants.

Grim situation

Studies by Forest Department employees find that dried waterholes have been prompting the wild animals to visit villages and populated areas in search of water. The drinking water situation has become grim in the forest areas due to drought and the movements of animals including leopards and wild elephants have been observed in villages.

In response to the situation, the Forest Department officials attached to the Sathanur Range in Kanakapura taluk in Ramanagaram district constructed the pond with a capacity of 10,000 litres and have been filling water into it.

The innovative idea of preventing wild animals from entering the populated areas has yielded good result and thrilled the Forest Department officials. According to the officials, as many as 25 elephants have come to the pond to drink water for more than 30 times in the last two months.

Thick woods

Muthathi, one of the popular picnic spots in the State, is surrounded by thick woods and falls under the purview of Mandya and Ramanagaram district administrations.

The majority of the water bodies in the forest that come under the supervision of Muthathi range, Sathanur range and Basavana Betta State Forest have dried up due to drought. The dried waterholes in forest areas have been prompting the wild animals to stray into human habitat, K. Bhyrava, Deputy Range Forest Officer (Sathanur Forest Range), told The Hindu recently.

In order to avoid human-wildlife conflicts, the Forest Department constructed the pond near Koolu Kote in the Basavana Betta State Forest area, a few km away from the picnic spot.

The forest in the Sathanur Range and the Basavana Betta State Forest are home to elephants, leopards, foxes, peacocks and other animals. The Forest Department has spotted the footprints of many animals including elephants near the water pond, Mr. Bhyarava said.

The department also observed the movements of wild elephants in the surroundings of Bhuvahalli and Muthathi for water on many occasions, he said.

Besides creating panic among the local villagers, the movement of wild elephants in the areas near Muthathi also caused worry among the tourists.

Muthathi is surrounded by picnic spots such as Bheemeshwari and Galibore fishing camps, Mekedatu, Shimsha, Sangam and Chunchalli Falls. Tourists from different parts of the State frequent these places in large numbers.

The Forest Department has observed elephant droppings at more than 20 places frequently. Besides wandering on the Sathanur-Muthathi main road, the wild pachyderms also visit the concrete tanks, meant for supplying drinking water to cattle, at several villages between Sathanur and Muthathi.

Recently a herd of wild elephants was seen wandering close to Muthathi. The herd might have strayed into the forest area from Dhanagur State Forest, Mahadeshwara Betta State Forest, Manjunatha State Forest, Chilandawadi State Forest or Basaveshwara Betta State Forest.

Furthermore, the residents of Kolukote, Bhuvahalli, Harihara and Dhoothuru had also noticed the elephants.

Areas such as Mahadeshwara Hills, Koudalli, Mugguru and Dhanagur elephant corridor have a good number of elephants and it is common to see them moving around.

For the last few weeks, residents of several villages used to stay indoors after sunset. This made the department to construct a pond. “We have spent around Rs. 50,000 to construct the pond,” RFO Bhyrava said.

The Forest Department officials are hiring water tankers to fill the pond. Pleased by the department’s move, the private water suppliers too fill the pond voluntarily.

M.T. Shiva Kumar

Success of novel method brings cheer to Forest Department