Stone quarrying, encroachment of forest land and increasing number of private resorts in the buffer zone of the Bannerghatta National Park and Savandurga forest in Ramanagaram district are destroying elephant habitat. These, and scarcity of fodder and water, are the major reasons for elephants entering Tumkur district, of late.
According to experts, excessive stone quarrying around the Bannerghatta National Park and Savandurga forest is disturbing elephants. Elephants are sensitive to sound and they get easily frightened by explosives used to blast rocks in stone quarries. They leave such places to avoid unnatural noise and sound caused by explosives.
Chairman of Wildlife Awareness Nature Club B.V. Gundappa told The Hindu that the “government must not give permission for stone quarrying and setting up resorts in the buffer zone, leading to disturbance to elephants.” He added that encroachment of forest land is causing scarcity of water and fodder for the pachyderms. Human interference in the name of tourism also disturbs elephants.
He said that an elephant requires 250 kg-300 kg of fodder and 150 litres of water per day but encroachment of forest land for construction of roads, reservoirs has deprived elephants of their daily food which forces them to come out of the forest in search of fodder and water.
Assistant Conservator of Forests Nagendra B.S. Rao said that Tumkur district has dry deciduous thorny forest. There are no elephants in the district and the elephants spotted in the district are migratory.
Elephant herds have forayed into the district on more than five occasions in 2013. Earlier, it was one or two visits a year. As tanks in the district are filled with water, the elephants come for water, and also ragi, paddy, maize and banana.
He said that the forest cover in the State is 21 per cent but the elephant population has increased from 3,500 to more than 6,500 elephants in the last decade. Tumkur district has 1,11,000 hectare of forest land — 10.32 per cent of the total geographical area of the district.
Also, lack of awareness among people about elephants and their movements is causing human casualty. There is a need for creating awareness about elephants among people along the elephant corridor of about 400 km in the State — from Bannerghatta, passing through Ramanagaram, Tumkur and ending in Chitradurga district.