Extreme curiosity of public leads to jumbo attack

Let the elephants be, Forest Department officers and police tell excited villagers

A large group of inquisitive citizens caused a herd of alarmed elephants to attack two men near Bethamangala on Saturday.

While Krishnappa, 47, a resident of Timmapura, had gone to a eucalyptus grove near T Gollahalli to collect timber, Jayavelu, 39, a resident of Bethamangala, who attempted to take a look at the elephants, was attacked by the animals.

News of the jumbos visiting the grove had attracted hundreds of people from the villages near Bethamangala to the eucalyptus grove and the Forest Department and Police Department officers, who were trying ensure the elephants did not cross paths with human beings had problems keeping the curious public away.

The herd of 32 elephants, which has been hovering around villages like Kamasamudra, Keerumande and Yaragol, came to the outskirts of Kolar Gold Fields City on Friday night. The elephants remained near Lakshmisagar, Marikuppa, Bheemaganahalli, Gollahalli and Parandahalli till midnight, and were found to have wrecked havoc in the banana, maize and ragi fields on the way.

The herd started out of the place at 5 am on Saturday and, via Kyasamballi, came near the Aipalli water tank on the outskirts of Bethamangala, and moved on to the eucalyptus grove near T Gollahalli.

The residents of Barli, Natta, Nallur, Kallikuppa and nearby villages, who were completely unprepared for the ‘visit’, went to the grove as usual, but had to return in fright. The three men, including Krishnappa, had gone to the grove to collect timber. Krishnappa was seriously injured in the attack by the elephants, while the other two men escaped attack.

The news of the visit, however, attracted hundreds of residents of the villages to the grove, to have a look at the elephants, which have been in news the last one month, for repeated visits to the villages in Bangarpet taluk.

The humans, rather than the elephants, proved a greater problem for control of the officers and staff members of the Forest Department and the Police Department.

K Munegowda, the Deputy Conservator of Forests, Kolar district, Puttanna, Assistant Conservator of Forests, Chandrashekhar Reddy, Regional Forest Officer, Shivakumar, Circle Inspector, and Jagadish, Sub-inspector, had to resort to mild lathicharge, but to no avail. While they tried to chase a group of people away from the grove, another group just attempted to have a closer look at the elephants in the eucalyptus grove.
About 14 elephants crossed the main road near Nallur-Kallikuppam at around 12.30 pm. Meanwhile, Jayavelu, who attempted to take a look at the elephants still in the grove, was attacked by the animals and was rushed to the Bethamangala hospital.

The increasing number of curious citizens forced the Forest Department officers to take the help of State and District Armed Forces Reserve Police staff members. Kolar Gold Fields Deputy Superintendent of Police Rajanna also arrived at the spot.

Munegowda, who spoke to Deccan Herald, said, “The elephants will go their own way, as long as human beings do not come in their way or create problems. But that is what is happening here. The elephants are alarmed by the ruckus.”

Puttanna added that about 20 people had arrived from the Bannerghatta National Park to control the movement of the elephants. “The jumbos are expected to move from the eucalyptus grove to some other places by evening,” he said.

The police are attempting to convince the residents of the villages near the grove not to go anywhere near the woods to prevent unexpected attacks by the elephants.

The Forest Department officers met legislator Y Sampangi, who visited Nallur, and spoke to him about the problems created by curious public and the possible damage that could be caused by an alarmed herd of elephants.

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