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Wild elephants a nightmare for Mudigere villagers

Mudigere, Sep 29, 2013, DHNS: 23:29 IST
Jumbo menace: The Tusker which has been brought from Sakerbail camp in Shimoga to chase away wild elephants in Mudigere taluk. dh photo
The herds of wild elephants that have taken shelter in the forests surrounding Mudigere taluk have continued to be the cause for concern for the people residing in Bidarahalli, Kenjige, Bharathibailu and Banahalli areas.

The fear has embedded in the lives of villagers here so much so that they return to their houses back from work by 5 pm.

The doors of the houses that get closed at 7 pm, will open only at 7 am the next day. They spend their nights with an uncertainty that who will be the next target of the tuskers. The sound of dog barking at night, creates a kind of panic among these villagers fearing the elephant attack.

Wild elephants menace is not new to the taluk. Elephants used to appear in the villages now and then during the last one decade. However, these elephants never troubled the farmers, and were mostly harmless.

But the situation has changed in the last two to three years. The elephants that have crossed the boundaries of Saragodu and Kundur regions began moving across Bidarahalli, Kenjige, Bharathibailu and Banahalli areas.

The wild elephants which once tasted the banana and other fruits grown in the coffee plantations, turned reluctant to leave the plantations. They have not only destroyed coffee plantations, but also paddy and cardamom, throwing the farmers into distress.

There are eight wild elephants in this region, of which there are two herds with four and three elephants respectively. The lone tusker is an added burden to the farmers. It has already claimed two lives and injured two more.

When the farmers have lost their crops owing to the elephant menace, the forest department opened its eyes finally after a prolonged delay. It has now begun the operation to chase away wild elephants with the help of tamed elephants.

The department has brought two elephants, New Tusker and Geetha from Sakrebail elephant camp to Mudigere, and a rapid force vehicle, with an aim to chase away elephants to Mutthodi forest via Saragodu reserve forest. However, the attempt seems to be futile, as the forest department has failed to chase away these elephants even after days of executing the operation. The elephants which are chased away from the social forestry, return during night on the same route and the department repeats the same exercise again.

With other efforts like digging the trench, installing IBX fences proving futile, the farmers are demanding for a permanent solution to address the elephant menace.

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