Wildlife activists have been for long raising concern on the rapidly reducing number of elephants in the wild, both in protected reserves and other forests. There are just around 32,000 jumbos left in the whole of India.
At first, it might sound like a healthy number, but the population have been reduced to less than half from the beginning of the past century, due to habitat loss, poaching and increasing human-animal conflicts.
Karnataka is home to one of the healthiest wild elephant population in India, with an estimated strength of nearly 6,000 jumbos in the wild, thanks to the forest reserves which have kept the number growing.
But now the Karnataka government feels like there is an excess number of wild elephants in the state, and the numbers should be reduced!
The Karnataka Forest Development Corporation Vice-Chairperson, Padmini Ponnappa, has urged Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Forest Minister B Ramanath Rai to consider sterilisation of elephants as they are wreaking havoc in Kodagu.
“As per the recent census, the elephant population in Kodagu is between 1,800 and 2,000. The human population of Kodagu is limited and with the increase in the population of elephants, coffee estate owners and farmers growing paddy are affected. Farmers are not able to enjoy the fruit of their hard work,” Ponnappa told Bangalore Mirror.
Kodagu which is known for its wide range of plantation like coffee, is also where Nagarhole National Park, a home to tigers and wild elephants are located. With the plantation areas increasing, there have been increasing number of incidents in which elephants wander into the plantations looking for food.
“Elephants visit coffee estates regularly and has destroyed coconut and sapota plants. The labourers had grown a variety of pumpkins; all that has been destroyed. The problem is that elephants are not getting sufficient food in the forests, and are coming in search of food,” she added.
According to her the forest department committed a big mistake over the last 35-40 years by not consider planting fruit trees, but went on planting teak and other trees. “They love juicy fruits and hunger prompts them to visit the estates frequently,” she said.
When it causes harm to humans and destruction of poor people’s’ farms, we had to raise the issue,” said Ponnappa.
In the last three years, about 42 people have lost their lives because of elephant attacks.