85 jumbos camping in Bannerghatta National Park

85 jumbos camping in Bannerghatta National Park

At least 85 elephants are camping in the Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) or moseying around its periphery, giving officials sleepless nights. 

Officials are worried over the way unplanned development has disturbed the elephants’ migratory routes. The BNP has been getting a lot of focus after the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change recently reduced its eco-sensitive zone from 268.96 sqkm to 168.84 sqkm. 

Sprawled over 296 square kilometres, the BNP houses 32 resident elephants. An additional 45 pachyderms have arrived from Tamil Nadu and other forests in herds of five to nine. Two of them have calves. Tuskers have also arrived in search of females. 

Staffers are keeping a close watch at the elephants, especially the tuskers, following the death of Ranga and the collapse of the all-male herd, a regular around the BNP. 

“Crops like ragi, banana and groundnuts are in full bloom around the BNP and are drawing elephants outside,” the BNP’s deputy conservator of forests Prashanth S said.

“All 146 waterholes inside the BNP are full. There is also abundant food in the forest. The elephants are already in Ragihalli, Shivanahalli, Bhootanahalli, Byatarayanadurga, Tammanayakanahlli and surrounding areas,” he added.

BNP officials point out that the pachyderms are driven from Tamil Nadu’s Thally forest to the BNP, which they consider a safe haven. They stay in the park, wander around and move back to Thally.

Much of the conflict-prone areas exist between Bannerghatta and Anekal. Despite holding several awareness programmes for villagers against growing elephant friendly crops, little has changed in the area. “We’re worried because it’s dry season and fire lines have been created,” said an official. “The elephants have started tasting crops outside. Farmers should not get agitated and set fire to forest fringes. We’re already under pressure to control encroachment and mining activities.”