Following an increase in the number of human-animal conflicts, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday instructed Forest Department officials to adopt scientific measures to control the animals from entering human habitations.
Noting the death of sharpshooter H.H. Venkatesh, who was hired to tranquilize an elephant, Mr. Siddaramaiah sought details from the department officials on precautionary measures taken to treat the injured elephant. He directed officials to issue a showcause notice to the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Hassan.
In a tragic incident, the Karnataka Forest Department’s attempt to treat an injured wild elephant turned fatal when the hired sharpshooter, Venkatesh, was killed by the elephant named Bhima in Halliyur village in Hassan district.
The CM chaired a meeting to find out ways to reduce human-wild animal conflict with Forest Minister Ehswar Khandre and senior officers and expressed his concern over the death of 11 people in 15 days due to elephant attacks and death of a 10-year-old boy Krishna Naik in Kallahatti village in H.D. Kote taluk in Mysuru district.
Fences and barricades
Mr. Khandre explained that ₹100 crore has been allocated to build rail fences to keep elephants away from entering human habitat. The department has sought ₹500 crore to install railway barricades to prevent elephants from coming out of forests.
The Minister explained that of the allotted amount, ₹54 crore has to be paid for last year’s balance and a 50 km fence can be built from the remaining amount and requested for additional funds. The Chief Minister immediately responded and asked him to spend additional ₹100 crore along with ₹54 crore.
The Minister said that though Karnataka had the highest elephant population at 6,395, the deaths in elephant attacks are less compared to other States due to railway barricade and solar fencing among other measures initiated in the State. This, he said, was less in comparison with Jharkhand that has 700 elephants reporting 80 deaths annually while 55 deaths are reported annually in West Bengal that has 750 elephants.