Karnataka

A bid to stop jumbo march

The Forest Department has installed railway barricades to stop entry of elephants in Alur range.  

The Forest Department has put up railway barricades for about 4.5 km in Alur range of Hassan district to avoid the movement of elephants. The 2.1 m tall barricades, made of used railway tracks, have been installed between Nagavara Elephant Camp and Bharatur in Alur taluk. This is the area wherein elephants from Kattepura forest in Kodagu district move towards Alur range crossing the backwater of Hemavati Reservoir located at Gorur.

People of Hassan have been dealing with the elephant menace for decades. As many as 70 lost their lives in the conflict in the district since 1991. Similarly, 63 elephants have died so far. Besides solar fencing and elephant-proof trenches (EPT), the department has taken up the installation of railway barricades as a solution to avoid conflicts.

K.N. Basavaraj, Deputy Conservator of Forests, on Friday, took a team of journalists to Nagavara Elephant Camp to show them the barricades. “We keep learning how to avoid conflicts. Now, the installation of railway barricades is considered to be the effective system to minimise the conflicts,” he said. Chandrashekhar, a contractor from Mysuru, has bagged the contract to put up barricades for 4.5 kms at a cost of ₹4.65 crore. He procured 750 tonnes of the used tracks from the Ministry of Railways at an open auction. “The barricades are 2.1 m above ground level. They have been erected with the support of concrete 1.5 m below the ground. Two horizontal barricades are such that neither a cub nor adult elephant could cross them. We have learnt from the past experiences where elephants died while attempting to cross the barricades,” the officer said.

The purpose is to avoid the entry of elephants from Kodagu to Hassan. In 2014, the department captured 24 elephants and relocated them, resulting in a decrease in man-animal conflict for a brief period. “However, the number of elephants increased gradually, as many crossed the Hemavati backwaters. Now, we are plugging the hole so that elephants’ entry from Kodagu is restricted,” the officer said.

The department plans to extend the barricade for 40 km covering the boundary points. In Kodagu, the elephants that raid coffee estates could be driven back to forest areas easily, while in Hassan it was not possible. The herds keep moving from one estate to another damaging the crop, the officer said.

Opposition from farmers

Farmers of Nagavara and surrounding villages in Alur taluk have opposed the railway barricades alleging that these would force the elephants to camp in their estates for a long period.

Rangaswamy, a resident of Nagavara, said, “No doubt the barricades restrict elephants coming from Kodagu. What about those elephants already in the boundaries? Now, they cannot go back to Kodagu because of the barricades and continue to remain in the estates located close to the barricades.”

Mr. Basavaraj, DCF, reacting to the allegations, said the barricades had been put up just now. The officers would analyse the elephants’ movement and take appropriate action whenever necessary. “We have plans to extend the barricades for 40 km. As of now, we have a system to open the barricades at key points to let the elephants go back to their places,” he said.

He further clarified, “The path that we are blocking is not considered to be the natural path of the elephants. Only in the recent years, they have begun to tread this path.”

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 2:01:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/a-bid-to-stop-jumbo-march/article34174106.ece

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