Bus mows down jumbo in Nagarhole forest

The private bus from Kannur heading towards Bengaluru collided with Ranga, who suffered serious injuries. (Pic special arrangement)

A pall of gloom descended on the Karnataka Forest Department and conservationists across the state in the midst of the wildlife week on Monday as a speeding bus mowed down a male elephant inside Nagarahole forest. The 46-year-old tusker, named Ranga, was hit by a bus belonging to Kalpaka Travels coming from Kannur to Bengaluru in the wee hours of Monday at 2.30 am near Mattigodu elephant camp in Nagarahole forest. A severely wounded Ranga succumbed to injuries at around 8.30 am.

Captured and rescued three-years ago from the Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) in Bengaluru, Ranga was taken to Mattigodu elephant camp for taming. With a remarkable change in his temper and attitude at the camp, Ranga was chosen to take part in the ongoing Dasara celebrations. However, according to Dr Nagaraju, veterinarian for the Dasara elephants, Ranga was dropped from the list in the last minute considering that he was only recently trained at the camp.

Sources in the forest department revealed to DH that Ranga was killed on the Mysuru-Kannur state highway within Anechowkuru Wildlife Range in Nagarahole National Park limits. The bus, belonging to Bengaluru-based Kalpaka Travels, hit the elephant when it was grazing along the road. The jumbo, besides being injured on the hip, suffered a major fracture in the backbone. The impact was such that there was a 10-inch deep cut on its back.

“It is a general practice at the camp that elephants are let into the forests at night and brought back at dawn. The speeding bus hit Ranga from the back. The elephant collapsed on the spot and was unable to move,” a forester at Nagarahole said.

In less than half an hour of the incident, staff and veterinarians rushed to the spot and attended to the jumbo. Despite several attempts to contain the bleeding and control the pain, Ranga succumbed to injuries. Dr Mujeeb, a veterinarian at the camp assisted by mahouts and other captive elephants, treated Ranga.

K T Hanumanthappa, who is holding charge of Nagarahole National Park currently said, “Rash and negligent driving inside the forest region resulted in the accident. Ponnampet police have seized the bus and its driver Ismail Nalakath was taken into custody. The driver neglected the traffic signage cautioning drivers against speeding all through the forest.

Interestingly, the accident on Monday has strengthened Karnataka’s case in its fight against Kerala over the lifting of the night traffic ban through Bandipur Tiger Reserve. Giving a new twist to the raging controversy over the night ban, the bus invloved in the accident belongs to the second petitioner to the Supreme Court (Kalpaka Travels).

According to the petition copy issued by the Karnataka High Court, a copy of which is with DH, the Bengaluru-based Kalpaka Travels with its proprietrix Mahija Prakashan is the second petitioner in the WP 26621-629/2009. Karnataka has been arguing before the high court and Supreme Court that allowing traffic through a wildlife area like Bandipur would jeopardise the lives of wildlife.


Kerala urges lifting night traffic ban in Bandipur

In SC, Kerala cites festival for traffic ban relief

Why Kerala is hell-bent on revoking night traffic ban

Bandipur night traffic ban key to saving wildlife

Road to resolution: An elusive middle ground



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Bus mows down jumbo in Nagarhole forest


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