Legal consolidation of elephant habitats proposed

Reconcile land records of forest, revenue depts: Experts

As animal-human conflicts have increased sharply around Bangalore, wildlife experts have called for the legal consolidation of elephant habitats, which they claim will help authorities prevent such clashes in future.

A senior forest official involved in operations at Kaggalipura/Dommasandra and surrounding places, said that man-animal conflicts around the City and other places in the State have been occurring because of increased human encroachment of wildlife areas, forcing elephants to seek out new migratory routes, which inadvertently lead them into increased contact with people.

Quoting the report of the Karnataka Elephant Task Force (KETF), wildlife experts said that the process of reconciling land records of the Forest and Revenue Department is long overdue in the State.

“In the absence of this important measure, it is neither possible to effectively enforce conservation laws, especially against encroachments, for the benefit of elephants or other wildlife nor is it possible to pursue development programmes for people without impediments at every stage,” the report says. 

The experts, who pointed out that existing parts of the elephant range currently extend outside the notified forest areas, said it is high time the government elevated the legal status of lands which qualify as deemed forests. Options are available to the government in this regard —notifying the areas as reserved, protected or village forest, under the Karnataka Forest Act, 1963, they said.

The KETF report notes that the government itself has compounded the problem by continuing leases and other concessions on forest lands within important elephant habitats — including protected areas such as the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary and the BRT Tiger Reserve.

Sources point out to leases for coffee estates and tourism facilities within the recently notified BRT Tiger Reserve and Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary as well as rubber plantations in Kodagu district.

“It is recommended that the Karnataka High Court direct the State to prepare, in a time-bound manner, an inventory of all such concessions and leases within designated forests in the elephant range and initiate necessary process in a time-bound manner to restore these lands as elephant habitats,” the report states.

Herd returns to forest

The herd of 16 wild elephants which had strayed into villages bordering Bangalore has returned to forest areas, Forest department officials, said on Tuesday.

While stating that the herd had reached forest areas near Tamil Nadu, the officials said the jumbos crossed NH-7 near Attibele as early as 2.30 am on Tuesday.

The herd, which had camped near Neralur, was spotted near Muthyala Maduvu on Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border at 7.30 am, before vanishing into Devarabetta forest range in Tamil Nadu (TN).

Despite this, residents from Tirumagondanahalli, Ittanuru, Chikkadasarahalli and other places had the authorities in a state of panic with phone calls, after local TV channels reported that the elephants could have strayed there.

In the past few days, the herd killed four persons and had entered areas very close to Electronics City, coming all the way from Krishnagiri forest range of TN through Malur taluk.

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