News Karnataka
Monday, April 22 2024

131 wild elephants have died in Kodagu alone in the last 10 years

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Bengaluru:  With the recent unnatural death of a pregnant elephant in Palakkad in Kerala, elephants are in the spotlight.  When it comes to the safety of wild elephants, Karnataka is far behind Kerala. According to official documents, in Kodagu, a tiny district of Malnad region alone 131 wild elephants have died in the last ten years. Among them 66 deaths are unnatural.

If sources in the forest department are to be believed, this number is worse than in three other wild elephant habitats i.e. Hassan, Chikkamagalur, and the undivided Mysuru district including Chamarajanagar.

“In Chamarajanagar district in the month of April, the carcasses of 7 elephants were recovered. Many elephants die in electrocution. If the data regarding the death of wild elephants is made public, we can get a clear picture,” said sources in the department.

Rampant encroachment: according to the authorities, the biggest challenge for the forest department is the huge volume of forest encroachment in the Malnad districts. “For example, in Hassan, the entire elephant corridor has been encroached by planters. They are so powerful that it is impossible to clear these encroachments. If the data is made public on the death of the wild animals, the department may come under public pressure. So, all the data is hidden,” alleged an activist who wished to remain unnamed.

As of 2018, Human-wildlife conflict across Karnataka has killed 149 people in the past three years — accounting for almost one death every week. Most lives were lost in Virajpet (16 deaths) and Madikeri (12), both in Kodagu district. If the last two years’ data was added, the figure could go up significantly. The data was collated by the Forest Department from its 36 forest/ wildlife divisions between 2014-15 and 2016-17, Minister for Forests B. Ramanath Rai told the assembly in 2018.

The compensation for human deaths is currently Rs: 5 Lakh. But there is no way to prevent or compensate for Elephant deaths which upsets the natural balance.

A senior forest official said the conflict was inevitable since wild animals, especially large ones like elephants, need large forest lands. “However, shrinking habitats, fragmented forest areas, and change in land use has led to these animals coming in a frequent conflict situation with humans. Also, the crop pattern being followed by farmers in villages that are located around the forest areas also attract elephants to stray out of the forest,” he added.

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