Rogue tusker in Bannerghatta park driven back

Tame elephants used to move it away from the zoo

Special Correspondent

BANGALORE: Almost a week after it gored a man accompanying forest department officials in the Bannerghatta National Park (BNP), a rogue elephant, "Rowdy Ranga," is believed to have been driven out of the sanctuary.

Earlier this month, the tusker, who used to charge at villagers foraging the forest, caused a scare by chasing four girls who were presumably picking firewood. Soon afterwards, the elephant, estimated to be about 20 years old, attacked the foresters and the villagers with them, and a young man, a resident of Byrappanahalli, was badly injured and was rushed to hospital.

Since then, the BNP staff have been making efforts to chase the male elephant away from the vicinity of the zoo and safari areas, frequented by hundreds of tourists. Over several days of effort, using tame elephants and by bursting crackers, the forest personnel forced it to move further into the forests. The BNP has forests contiguous with those in Tamil Nadu, and elephant herds freely move between the jungles on both sides of the border. While elephants moving in herds may destroy and eat crops, they seldom attack humans. Lone tuskers may sometimes do so.

`Elephant corridor'

The BNP is part of an "elephant corridor" stretching for about 140 km, which is used by elephant herds in their search for food and water. The corridor touches the Nilgiris at one end and the forests around Chikmagalur at the other end. Between 2001-04, the Forest Department had to pay Rs. 30.84 lakhs as compensation for crop loss to farmers in the area.

According to BNP authorities and wildlife experts, much of the area where elephant herds once freely moved have become cultivated fields, and this loss of their natural habitat is one reason why they have become crop raiders.

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