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ELEPHANT AND LEOPARD KILLINGS RISES DURING JUNE-JULY ACROSS STATES

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By Meera Bhardwaj

If five elephants were electrocuted in Karnataka, a leopard was shot dead while a tiger succumbed to its injuries when it was being transported. Also, cases of road kills of striped-hyena, jungle cat, many amphibians and reptiles were reported across the state during these months. 

The months of June-July has been pretty dismal as far as protection of wildlife species across India is concerned. In a tragic incident on July 19, a female elephant was killed in Dehing Patkai national park in Assam when it was caught in cross-firing between forest staff and timber smugglers. Further, a tiger was found dead in Kaziranga tiger reserve due to unwarranted firing on June 18 while trying to drive it away from the public in Kohora range.

Leopard killings and deaths have risen this year in the country with 114 leopards poached and their parts seized in the last six months. After the poisoning case of three leopards in May in Mysuru, a leopard was found dead due to bullet injuries on 14th of this month in Ramnagara district. 

Jumbos have been killed rampantly due to electrocution in many states. Even solar fences are being charged with electric current to drive away or kill the jumbos. Three elephants were electrocuted in Odisha in the last two months when they came in contact with live wires in various forest divisions. The list of electrocution of jumbos is endless if one starts counting and there seems to be no solution in sight in the affected states….…

If on June 18th, a tiger was run over by a vehicle on NH-43 in Umaria forest division of Madhya Pradesh, on June 26th, 240 pangolin scales were seized in Komram Bheem Asifabad district, Telangana. The last two months, it has been tough for many wildlife species as big cats straying from the forest areas have either been killed on the road or captured or poisoned.

On July 21st, a jungle cat was killed on Sindhanur Road in Raichur district. The cat was killed on the spot when it was crossing the busy road. The Indian Jungle Cat is widely distributed across the country and inhabits grasslands, swamps, wetlands and shrub areas. In some countries, they are on the verge of extinction due to hunting and habitat destruction and so, they have been listed in CITES under Appendix-2.

On July 20th, a tusker was found dead in Dhanugala village near Basappa road. Earlier, on 3rd, a 12-15-year-old tusker was found dead in an estate in Poochakallu village of Kutta gram panchayat, Kodagu district. Another elephant calf (just one month old) was found dead inside a waterbody of Nagarhole National Park limits near Nittur village of Kodagu district. According to forest officials, the calf may have died in a tiger attack.

On July 18th, an elephant calf was electrocuted when it was caught in a solar fence around a coffee estate at Areyur village. The elephant calf succumbed to the shock near a reserve forest in Somwarpete taluk, Kodagu district. On 16th June, a young tusker was electrocuted near Malavalli in Netkal village.

On 15th, another elephant was electrocuted. This happened at Halathur village in Omkar range of Bandipur tiger reserve. As usual, a farmer had illegally tapped power from an overhead transmission line to protect their crops from foraging wildlife. And this 35-year-old jumbo was caught in the electrified fence when it tried to sneak into the farmer’s field in the early hours.

In a tragic incident, a 35–40-year-old female elephant was killed on June 23rd when it reportedly fell down from a hill in Ragihalli range, Bannerghatta National Park. And a dried tree stump had pierced its trunk and had gone two feet deep into its stomach and had suffered an intestinal rupture.

On the same day (15th), a leopard was shot by poachers at Kadanakuppe village in Ramnagara district. And this took place when the poachers shot the five-year-old leopard at very close range in a reserve forest near Thenginala hills.

On 12th, a leopard was found dead in Halaguru by local residents of Yatambadi village in an agricultural field.  The two-year-old male leopard had ventured out in search of food and was found eating the decomposed remains of a calf. Local residents complained of frequent straying of leopards to their village from the nearby hillock and demanded capture of these big cats in their vicinity.

On 9th, when an injured tiger was being shifted from Bandipur to Bannerghatta rehabilitation centre, the animal succumbed to its injuries. According to forest officials, the five-year-old tiger which had moved from Antarsanthe range in Nagarhole to Gundre range in Bandipur was mauled by another tiger. Sustaining serious injuries in a territorial fight, the big cat died enroute to Mysuru. The tiger was darted twice and the emaciated animal which was in a very bad condition could not survive the journey.

Across many states, there have been many arrests of hunters and smugglers – involved in poaching of herbivores for its meat. On 7th, forest officials arrested Ramesh Valthaje and recovered about 1.5 kg of meat – either deer or sambar, from his house in Bilinele village, Subramanyapura range in Mangaluru. (Tuesday)

On 5th, a group of 8-10 poachers were caught by local residents when they were trying to capture flying fox at Siddhayayannadoddi, Hosur post, Bidadi hobli in Ramanagara district. They were caught red handed with a variety of hunting materials and were later handed over to forest staff for further action.

Many wildlife road kills were reported across the country in the last two months. On June 13, the carcass of a male striped hyena was found near Masinagudi bridge. Hit by an unidentified vehicle in the Masinagudi range of Mudhumalai tiger reserve, the rare hyena had suffered heavy hemorrhage and internal bleeding. This road kill was seen despite the travel restrictions to sanctuaries and national parks during the Pandemic.