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Search Chikkamagaluru for origin of rivers, not water

K M Santhosh Kumar, Chikkamagaluru, March 13, 2017, DHNS: 23:36 IST

Bhadra backwaters attract wild animals as other water bodies dry faster

With the Malnad region reeling under its worst drought situation, the district where five rivers take birth is experiencing water crisis.

The backwaters of the Bhadra reservoir, situated on the periphery of the Bhadra reserve forest, are slowly drying up. The wild animals are also beginning to move towards the backwaters in search of water.

The Bhadra reserve forest covers 492.46-sq km area and is rich in flora and fauna. Perennial rivers and streams like Somavahini, Tadabehalla and Nayihalla flow in the Muthodi range of the reserve forest and have been helping the animals to quench their thirst. However, the water-level in these water bodies has declined drastically. About 92 water bodies inside the reserve forest too are drying up rapidly. Almost all the water bodies on the 82-sq km area in Thanigebailu range have already dried up.

“For the last 15 days, animals like elephants are not being sighted at Thanigebailu and Lakkavalli ranges. The elephants are instead camping near the backwaters of the Bhadra reservoir. Tigers and leopards are seen camping at spots where water is available, in order to hunt their prey. Sambar deer, deer, wild sheep are struggling to quench their thirst in the region,” sources in the Bhadra wildlife division told DH.

“There are 17 lakes in the Thanigebailu area, but water is available in only Lalbagh, Balegundi and Aanegundi lakes. If the region fails to receive rainfall in the next 15 days, then all the lakes would go dry and the situation will worsen,” said an official on the condition of anonymity.

“The inflow of water to River Bhadra in Hebbe range of the reserve forest has declined drastically. With the river water being used for watering arecanut and coffee plantations, the wild animals are facing a crisis,” said officials.

Due to the shortage of water, the wild animals have begun straying into the villages in search of water. In the last two months, six cases of sambar and other deer losing their lives after packs of dogs attacked them in villages have been reported, said an officer.

Wildlife activists said, “It is common for wild animals to stray into villages in search of water and food. To arrest the wild animals falling prey to poachers, the Forest Department should deploy additional staff on the periphery of forest areas.”

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