Strayed herd of elephants pushed back into the wild

Dec 06 2013, 03:18 IST
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SummaryAfter two days of sustained efforts using tamed jumbos the herd was driven back 20 km till the Kabini reservoir.

The forest department has finally managed to push back a herd of eight elephants that had strayed out of the Omkara forest region and was camping in farms on the outskirts of Mysore for the past three-four days.

After two days of sustained efforts using tamed jumbos the herd was driven back 20 km till the Kabini reservoir towards an elephant corridor from where it had come.

The herd was first spotted at Rayanakere outside Mysore on Monday and then at Bandipalya on Tuesday. Four tamed elephants and dozens of forest personnel participated in the exercise to push it back.

The forest department used fire crackers, drums and fired gunshots in the air to scare the herd that had strayed outside a diminishing elephant corridor spread over 14,500 sq km along the borders of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.

In June 2011, a mother-son pair part of a herd had strayed into Mysore city. Scared by hundreds of people, the young one got isolated and went on a rampage killing a 55-year-old ATM guard who came in its way.

The tusker was eventually calmed by forest officials using five tranquilizer shots after nearly four hours of ordeal.

Karnataka has almost one-fifth of the nearly 28,000 wild elephant population in the country and most of them are in Mysore Elephant Reserve, “a single, contiguous landscape’’ with links to elephant habitats in neighboring Tamil Nadu and Kerala, says a September 2012 report of the Karnataka Elephant Task Force (KETF) set up to minimise man-animal conflict.

Fragmentation of this corridor “exacerbated by developmental pressures of a rapidly growing economy’’ has been cited as the primary reason for the growing number of man-animal conflict situations in the region since the late 1980s.

“The ecological basis of such conflicts is rooted in a set of complex factors, including loss, fragmentation and degradation of the natural habitat, regional changes in land use pattern, superior palatability and nutritional properties of cultivated plants as compared to the natural forage of the elephant, social organisation of the elephant with adult males becoming more persistent raiders and adverse climactic effects causing elephant groups to disperse,’’ says the KETF report presented to the Karnataka High Court.

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