One more person died on Sunday in an encounter with a large herd of wild elephants that had first come into villages in Malur taluk of Kolar district on Saturday and then headed into Hoskote in Bangalore Rural, taking the toll of victims to four over the weekend, the police said.
On Sunday, M. Manjunath, a photojournalist of Kannada daily Vijayavani, was killed by an elephant when he tried to get close to the herd to get a picture.
The herd of 22 elephants had made its way to Horohalli tank in Jadigenahalli hobli (Hoskote taluk) on Sunday, when thousands of people gathered around the lake to watch. The fatal conflict took place when residents tried to “chase” the herd on foot and on bikes, and take pictures on their phones, Deepak Sharma, Chief Wildlife Warden, told The Hindu.
Close to 4,000 people had gathered near the tank, according to a press note from the Minister for Forests B. Ramanath Rai on Sunday. The dangerous encounter lasted three to four hours, it added and appealed to the public to stay calm.
On Saturday, Chikkamuniyappa, Ramakrishnappa and Chandrappa (former president of a Malur Gram Panchayat) died following an attack by the herd in Malur taluk. It is difficult to predict where the herd will venture next, Mr. Sharma said, although the “situation is under control” for now. The herd has, however, split into two groups, making matters more difficult, he added.
These fatalities were the tragic consequence of people being unaware of how to deal with wild elephants, says Raman Sukumar, expert on elephant ecology and Chairman of the Centre for Ecological Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science.
“You should just leave them alone and there is a good chance they will retreat back into the forest. It is dangerous to approach elephants. If the herd gets scattered, there is going to be mayhem.”