Four elephants found dead in Mysore forest area

November 06, 2008 12:00 am | Updated October 09, 2016 09:17 pm IST

Special Correspondent

Post-mortem results are awaited for cause of deaths

Twenty-five elephants have died in the last six months in Mysore-Chamarajangar forest area

Proliferation of weeds also force animals to stray from their natural habitat

MYSORE: Four elephants were found dead under mysterious circumstances near Kappsoge in Nanjangud taluk on Wednesday. The news has alarmed conservationists and Forest officials.

With this incident, eight elephants have died under unnatural circumstances in the region in the last four days alone, and more than 25 elephants have died in the last six months in the Mysore-Chamarajangar forest area.

Though they are suspected to have been electrocuted; only post-mortem reports will show the exact cause of deaths. It is believed that the elephants may have met a grisly death on Tuesday, but their carcasses were found by the people of the village, which is about 50 km from Mysore, only on Wednesday.

Though there were traces of burns and injuries on the back of the elephants, Forest Department officials did not wish to speculate on the cause of the death. They said the post-mortem results would be known on Thursday. Three of the elephants were adults and one was a calf, which was found trapped in the Kabini Right Bank canal under a bridge. While the carcasses of two adult elephants were found in the Kabini Right Bank canal, the carcass of the third adult elephant was found in a water body near Muddenahalli, which is four km from Kappsoge, close to Hediyala range of Bandipur National Park.

In all, eight elephants have perished under unnatural circumstances, one of which was a pregnant elephant which got stuck in a swamp and died.

Activists’ view

Wildlife activists have pointed out that man-animal conflict has increased in recent years and farmers in the H.D. Kote-Nanjangud-Gundlupet-Yellandur, adjoining the Bandipur National Park, have installed electric fences illegally. Non-governmental organisations have also cautioned the Forest Department that the conflict could escalate in the days ahead as the forests are already degraded due to anthropogenic pressure resulting in disturbances to wildlife habitat.

The proliferation of weeds, like Lantana, also force animals to stray from their natural habitat and wander into human habitation.

A majority of the people living near the forests have installed illegal electric fences to protect their crops from rampaging animals. Elephants, which enter human habitation in search of fodder and water, come into contact with these high-tension electric wires and are killed instantly.

Compensation issue

There is a growing demand from NGOs to increase the cash compensation paid to farmers, failing which it would be difficult to co-opt them into conservation efforts. A majority of them resort to installing illegal electric fences as a desperate measure to save the standing crops. It was only recently that a herd of 76 elephants had strayed from their habitat into Nugu region but was successfully driven back by the efforts of the Forest Department and the local community.

Expressing shock over the incident, Praveen Bhargav of the Wildlife First and a Member, National Board for Wildlife, told The Hindu that this was an outcome of a larger issue of fragmentation of habitat. He said unless the wildlife habitat is properly managed and their contiguity ensured, large landscape species like elephants will continue to die. Even the vigilance wing of the electricity board has done nothing about the illegal tapping of electricity, and so far there has not been a single prosecution though scores of elephants have been electrocuted in the vicinity of Bandipur and Nagarahole.

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