Why do elephants go to Kerala, wonders CM

Prevent jumbos from migrating, wild cats from straying, says Siddu

Amidst the tense atmosphere among officials during a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, the latter’s remarks regarding man-animal conflict in the State sparked several chuckles among officials.  

From asking Forest department personnel to prevent the migration of elephants from Karnataka to Kerala and Tamil Nadu, to wondering why officials were ‘failing’ to monitor tigers inside the reserves, Siddaramaiah left everybody in the room open-mouthed when he said, “Why aren’t tigers and leopards being stopped before they venture out of the forests and attack humans and cattle?”

The issue cropped up during the discussions on tigers mauling of four persons around Bandipur Tiger Reserve, last year, and instances of crop loss suffered due to elephants raiding farmers. 

Difficulties

Though Siddaramaiah’s concerns were regarding preventing losses to life and crops, it took some effort to convince him about the migration of elephants, and the difficulties involved in preventing tigers and leopards from entering villages near the fringes of reserves.

“Since Forest department can only capture tigers after an attack, they should shut their offices near the reserves and stay in Bangalore,” he said. 

Migratory pattern

Explaining about the migratory pattern of elephants, APCCF (Project Tiger) C Srinivasan said that elephants have a territory which stretches to thousands of kilometres, and they seasonally travel from a region in Karnataka to Kerala or Tamil Nadu, and vice versa, in search of fodder and water. 

Siddaramaiah questioned whether the elephants migrated to ‘meet their relatives’ and instructed the officials to arrange fodder and water for elephants inside the State to stop migration!

A flustered Siddaramaiah finally blurted, “Let the elephants go to either Kerala or Tamil Nadu, but the department should ensure that they stop raiding farms within Karnataka.” 

Srinivasan also had to coax the Chief Minister about the behaviour of felines, by telling him that unlike taking preventive measures like digging up trenches and erecting fences to prevent elephants from venturing out of forests. He said wild cats could scale barriers as high as 18 ft and it would be difficult to prevent the movement of felines out of the forests. 

This also failed to convince Siddaramaiah, who wondered if aged felines could jump 18 ft.

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