As the human-elephant conflict is on the rise in the Bannerghatta – Savandurga – Kanakapura corridor, elephant experts and the Forest Department differ on how to prevent such instances.
While experts have suggested restricting elephant movement within the Bannerghatta Range, forest officials term it “impractical” and blame the growing city encroaching forests for the phenomenon. They have been seeking curbs on development in the corridor.
Dipika Bajpai, DCF, Bengaluru Urban, said that the elephant that attacked the CRPF personnel was a lone male elephant on its way to Bannerghatta from Savandurga. “It was spotted at B.M. Kaval and near the Roerich estate three days ago,” she said.
Ajay Desai, member of the Project Elephant Steering Committee, said that while Savandurga had never been a traditional elephant habitat, several cases of conflicts have been reported in the area and even as far as Tumakuru. He said that the only workable solution was to restrict the elephants within the Bannerghatta forest area by building suitable barriers. “ The Forest Department needs to conduct drives to push all elephants outside into the forest area and try to restrict them within,” he said.
Raman Sukumar, at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, concurred and said that the only sustainable solution was to erect “elephant-proof barriers” around the forest and manage the boundaries.
“In the Bannerghatta area, male elephants have been found shuttling between the forest and Savandurga. Older males return to forests when they are on musth to mate with the females,” he said.
However, forest officials differ and term barricading the elephants as “non-implementable”.
Ms. Bajpai said that elephants were known to travel along corridors and it couldn’t be restricted to a forest like Bannerghatta.
“Elephants are known to break barriers and it is difficult to barricade them,” she said adding that the development in the corridor was almost inching close to the forest border. “Unless there are curbs on development in the area, the corridor will become more fragmented leading to many other such possible conflicts,” she said.
Ms. Bajpai added that the particular elephant that attacked the CRPF personnel was being tracked down.
“We will track it down and push it back into the forest. We will also open some barriers around the forest to facilitate the movement of the elephant back into the forest,” she said.