Forest Department denies reports of crop loss
The pachyderms were seen in an eucalyptus grove early on Monday Forest Department staff chased the animals back into BNP
BANGALORE: A herd of around 35 elephants strayed into villages on the periphery of Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) on Sunday night, creating panic among villagers.
The elephants strayed into Begehalli, Ramasagara and Nallasandra villages near Jigani in Anekal taluk, three km from the BNP. The animals were seen in an eucalyptus grove in the early hours of Monday.
While there were reports that the herd had destroyed ragi and maize crop, the Forest Department officials denied it. The elephants did not attack any one. The Forest Department staff burst firecrackers and chased the animals back into the BNP around 11.30 a.m.
Elephants straying into villages around Bangalore has become a regular phenomenon over the last few years. The repeated invasions by the elephants are not only symptomatic of increased man-animal conflict but also of the encroachment and destruction of BNP.
The rapid urbanisation of Bangalore and its suburbs have led to mushrooming of buildings and denudation of lush green forests, thereby driving elephants away from their habitat. Wildlife experts and members of the Institute for Natural Resources Conservation, Education, Research and Training (INCERT) point out that decades ago, wild elephants foraged regularly for food and water in and around Bannerghatta, which was part of the elephant corridor. Herds of elephants migrate from Bandipur towards Bannerghatta and from there to Hassan via Savandurga forests.
Comprising 104.27 sq km, Bannerghatta was notified as a national park on September 6, 1974.
It has a mean annual rainfall of 700 mm and comprises 8,427 hectares of tropical dry deciduous forest, 1,500 hectares of thorn forests and 500 hectares of moist deciduous forests.
There are 35 man-made tanks of which 20 have perennial source of water.
There are six villages within the park area and 236 villages surrounding it with a population of nearly 75,000 people. Illegal grazing by nearly 12,000 heads of cattle, goat, and sheep is a permanent feature in the park. These animals compete with the elephants in eating grass.
Frightened by the noise of dynamite used in the quarries, hemmed in by roads and villages criss-crossing their paths and hungry for more food, the elephants move out of the BNP, the experts say.
When the elephants, during their migratory journey that starts between November and December, find that the corridor through which they passed earlier was blocked, they break down the barriers and destroy whatever comes in their way.
Sugarcane, coconut, banana, papaya and pineapple plantations and ragi crop around Bannerghatta, Turahalli, Tataguni, Kaggalipura and the Agara dam tempt elephants to leave the safety of the forests to forage for food among human habitation, they say.
Trenches dug by the Forest Department to prevent the elephants from crossing the boundaries of the BNP has proved ineffective,as villagers fill up the trenches to take their cattle for grazing.