Even as Karnataka celebrated for World Elephant Day, the number of elephant deaths has continued to go up in the region, with the latest case being an elephant getting electrocuted by an illegally placed electric fence in Bandipur, making it the 14th case for the year.
In the Bandipur-Nagarhole Region, many animals are suffering thanks to the illegal electric fencing common in the farmlands in the region, with elephants suffering the most thanks to their size and numbers. The region’s elephant population density is notably high, with Nagarhole having 1.54 elephants/km2, while Bandipur has 1.13/km2. With the region holding hundreds of villages located on its boundaries and fringes, conflicts between humans and animals are pretty much expected.
From July to August, Bandipur alone saw two elephants dying thanks to electrocution, one at August at 12, the other at June 20. The former is a 15-year-old female elephant that had managed to wander into the village and ended up touching an illegally posted electric fence around a farm, while the latter had a similar case happen in Chikkabaragi village, to a 60-year-old female elephant. These cases are only some of the more recent incidents of elephants getting killed in thanks to the illegal electric fencing in the region, with Bandipur seeing the most, at 5 incidents.
According to the Range Forest officials handling the issue, the none of the conflict preventive measures in the region, like elephant-proof trenching, have been unsuccessful is stopping the animals from making contact with human settlements, with the farmers in the region resorting to powering their fences by directly wiring them to nearby transmission lines. This results in animals, not just elephants, getting hurt or killed when trying to make their way into horticultural fields.
A wildlife conservationist, D. V. Girish, says that the only way to deal with this problem is to have an integrated approach. He says that this rising conflict situation needs a dedicated response from the forest department, and that finding elected representatives, farmers, experts, other departments, and volunteers that’ll work together, get some people on the ground and on the field, in order to deal with this issue and stop the wanton death of animals, not just elephants.