Although the Tanigebail-Yemmedoddi wildlife corridor is a clear way for movement of elephants and tigers, however, rising encroachments and change of land use has been triggering human-elephant conflicts now and then in this part of the Chikkamagaluru district, Karnataka, India. However, efforts and investigations by Karnataka forest officials in the recent case of electrocution of a young tusker at Kadur range in Chikkamagaluru has brought cheers to conservation efforts.
On 31st July, a 20-year-old tusker was electrocuted when it came in contact with a 220V electric fence at Kallhole village near Yemmedoddi. The farmer -Hulliyappa Gowda had illegally tapped power from the main lines to electrify his farm fence in an effort to protect his maize crop. In the aftermath of the killing of the elephant, fearing arrest, the farmer absconded.
Now why did this incident happen? This is a case of large-scale encroachment between Yemmedoddi and Kamenhalli Reserve Forest over the last three to four decades which has affected wildlife. When one looks at the statistics of elephant electrocution in this district, nearly 12 elephants have been killed across four ranges in Chikkamagaluru district. (Look at the data given below).
Coming to Kadur Range, this area has seen the death of three elephants where one was shot while the other two were electrocuted in the last two years. Tracing the offender and probing the case within a week, concerned Chikkamagaluru territorial division put in all their efforts to nab the culprit. Forest officials told Green Minute it was a joint effort with the Mysore electric supply company and they had convinced the latter to book the offender under Karnataka Electricity Act for illegally tapping power from the mains.
Mr Jagannath, Chikkamagaluru Territorial DCF said, “Electric fences can not only kill elephants but also humans. Six months back, a person died caught in the electric fence. Once in a while, elephants use this area in Yemmedoddi and the recent incident shows the animal had strayed into the farm attracted by the maize crop. In the corridor area, more than 8000 acres have been left out in Kadur range even after two notifications. We have to look into this issue and find a solution.”
Under the guidance of conservator of forest Sunil Panwar, DCF and Kadur ACF Mudanna, RFO Tanuj Kumar and foresters Santhosh and Nagaraj were involved in the operations that were done in coordination with local police and Mescom officials. The offender was produced before the Kadur JMFC court and remanded to custody. The charge sheet is expected to be filed within 3-4 days.
CRUCIAL WILDLIFE AREA
Chikkamagaluru honorary wildlife warden G Veeresh adds, “Even as we look at the data, there have been 12 cases of elephant electrocution across the ranges of Lakkavali, Tarikere, Chikkamagaluru, and Aldur in the district in the last 12 years. This area witnesses significant movement of wildlife and they are adjacent to Bhadra Tiger Reserve. It has been painful to see so many deaths and probes being left halfway with no results. However, this time, it is heartening that investigations were completed fast. With the filing of the charge sheet, we hope the case reaches its logical conclusion and the offender is convicted which will serve as a deterrent to people powering their farm fences illegally.”
Wildlife activists add that with large scale encroachments between Yemmedoddi and Kamenhalli Reserve Forest and people farming on these lands for the last 3-4 decades, it is not an easy task for the forest department to clear these encroachers who have political support. The need of the hour is strengthening elephant corridors and connecting the elephant landscapes which will help in reducing conflicts to some extent, opine wildlife experts.
All Image Credits: G Veeresh
ELEPHANT ELECTROCUTION INCIDENTS
Year Area Territorial Range
2008 Lalabagh Tarikere
2009 Guddadabeeranahalli Lakkavalli
2010 Guddadabeernahalli Lakkavallli
2013 Kelagane Chikkamagaluru
2014 Timmanabailu Tarikere
2016 Guddadabeeranahalli Lakkavalli
2017 – Lakkavalli
2017 Nandibattlu Tarikere
2018 Hospete Chikkamagaluru
2019 Kundur Aldur
2019 Siddarahalli Kadur
2020 Kallhole Kadur