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Three States, two nationwide highways, 100 elephants & war throughout

The Nationwide Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has proposed an elephant move within the Sanamavu Reserve Forests (RF) close to Hosur, alongside the NH 844, to allow elephants emigrate from the Cauvery Flora and fauna Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu to Andhra Pradesh and again. However the current freeway, NH 44 connecting Chennai and Bengaluru, that runs parallel to NH 844, continues to hold heavy site visitors and what has been just about forgotten, is that within the not-so-distant-past, there was once a suggestion for 3 eco-bridges in this freeway.

In its software ahead of the Splendid Court docket for the removing of 901 bushes within the Sanamavu Reserve Wooded area of Krishnagiri, the NHAI has mentioned that the NH 844 is a part of Bharatmala, connecting Bangalore City District (Karnataka) to Dharmapuri (Tamil Nadu). Because the NH 44 may now not be made eight-laned because of the Hosur area changing into an commercial hub, it was once made up our minds to toughen this current choice street, previous SH 17 and now upgraded as NH 844, so as to keep away from congestion in Hosur the city. NHAI additionally mentioned the commute distance could be diminished by means of 19 km between the 2 towns, and after crowning glory of the mission, it’s anticipated that round 40% of site visitors on NH 44 will probably be diverted to NH 844. The alignment plan submitted together with the applying has a provision for an elephant underpass.

“There are surely elephants crossing within the Sanamavu Reserve Wooded area alongside NH 844. This is why we’ve got designed an underpass,” says an NHAI authentic. The NHAI record states that human – elephant encounters within the space are a typical incidence. Elephant herds most often comes out of the RF and injury vegetation and now and again problem human existence within the villages of Beerjapalli, Aagaram, Azhiyalam and Podur Pallam, adjacent the woodland.

Although the freeway passes for one km alongside a woodland stretch, the proposed increased hall may have 8 30-metre stretches, spanning to a complete duration of 240 metres, with a 4.5 metre vertical clearance segment, costing ₹47.03 crore.

Requested if there have been plans to have a identical underpass on NH44 as neatly, NHAI officers mentioned there was once a dialogue some years in the past about this, however there was once no present proposal.

At the want for eco-bridges

The will for eco-bridges to revive migratory elephant corridors on NH44, first started in 2016. After a significant coincidence in June that 12 months involving the dying of elephants, the then Krishnagiri District Collector held a gathering of line departments and mentioned techniques to keep away from widespread deadly injuries.

A signboard warning road users about an elephant crossing zone near the Sanamavu reserve forest area

A signboard caution street customers about an elephant crossing zone close to the Sanamavu reserve woodland space
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All senior officers within the district inspected the realm after which mentioned the development of eco-bridges at 5 issues. The District Collector directed the NHAI Krishnagiri unit’s mission director to publish a suggestion for the development of eco-bridges at 3 vital crossing issues – Sanamavu, Kamandoddi and Melumalai, the place elephants had been incessantly crossing the freeway.

“Those issues don’t seem to be a part of a conventional elephant hall. They’re frequented by means of elephants because of the seasonal motion of crop-raiding elephants that cross backward and forward between Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, starting within the Nineteen Nineties. About 50% of the elephants that go NH 844 arrive at NH 44,” says Okay. Karthikeyani, Flora and fauna Warden, Hosur. “We attempt to limit them from crossing NH 44 because the fragmented forests past this don’t seem to be viable habitation for elephant herds. As of now, the focal point is to include the elephants inside the Cauvery North Flora and fauna Sanctuary limits,” she says.

The Cauvery North Flora and fauna Sanctuary that begins from Bannerghatta Nationwide Park, is a contiguous stretch of forests at the south facet, and fragmented forests within the north and the east. Those fragmented patches render the elephants that stray, liable to damaging interactions with people. Those damaging interplay are starkly portrayed in identical numbers annually: an annual reasonable of 6 to eight elephant casualties; 8 to ten human casualties and over 250 hectares of crop injury affecting 1,000 farmers, in step with Wooded area Division accounts.

Some other factor is that Lantana camara, an unique weed, has invaded the foraging landscapes of the forests, pushing the elephants out of the sanctuary and into human habitations. This invasive species has taken over 40% of the forests on this area, accentuating a disaster of habitat loss additionally fed by means of a variety of alternative components, in step with the Wooded area Division.

Preventing elephants from straying

Now, then again, the Wooded area Division is establishing a bodily barrier of a steel-wire rope fence, first observed within the Addo Nationwide Park in South Africa, and later attempted and examined within the Mudumalai Theppakadu Sanctuary for 6 months. It was once examined on a pilot foundation within the Jawalagiri forests as neatly. This fence, comprising vertical pillars with horizontal wires, will pose a bodily impediment to the elephants, combating them from straying out of doors the sanctuary. 

A herd of wild elephants seen crossing an inter-state highway on the Chittoor-Karnataka border. File.

A herd of untamed elephants observed crossing an inter-state freeway at the Chittoor-Karnataka border. Document.
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Particular Association

It’s proposed to barricade just about 120 km of prone stretches with this metallic cord fencing. Paintings has already begun on a stretch of 30 to 35 km of the northern a part of the sanctuary. To this point observed as idiot evidence, then again, those bodily boundaries are pushing elephants into the japanese fragmented patches of Dharmapuri, says Dharmapuri District Wooded area Officer Okay.V.A.Naidu.  

This was once borne out by means of the elephant casualties of ultimate month, when 4 elephants had been killed by means of electrocution after straying into human habitations. This resulted in calls to arrange identical metallic cord fences on the japanese finish of the sanctuary, which falls below the newly-declared Cauvery South Flora and fauna Sanctuary. 

In the meantime, about 200 non-resident, migratory elephants get started their adventure from Bannerghatta Nationwide Park in Karnataka round October annually, a adventure that continues till April, after they go back to the park. It’s this migration alongside the Cauvery Flora and fauna Sanctuary that could be a contiguous woodland stretch for a vital collection of squarekm and fragmented in portions, this is fraught with human-animal damaging interactions. This migration of non-resident elephants additionally pushes resident elephants to the woodland fringes and out of doors.

Some herds proceed to enter Andhra Pradesh, crossing NH 44. Previous, they used to go right through Deepavali and go back right through Pongal. Now there is not any specific season or regimen, says A. Prakash, woodland veterinarian, Hosur. The elephants are keen on fields and orchards of ragi, mangoes, tamarind, tomatoes, and paddy. 

Human-animal war

There may be nonetheless then again, no clinical knowledge on why the elephant herds go into Andhra Pradesh. In a 2009 paper on human – elephant war (HEC) within the Koundinya Flora and fauna Sanctuary, the famend (overdue) elephant knowledgeable Ajay Desai and his crew famous that within the early Eighties, a herd of elephants moved into Kuppam and Palamaner forests (now the sanctuary) from Hosur in T.N. and later, extra migrated in 1986. Twenty-four deaths had been reported between 1987 and 2003, part of them because of electrocution right through crop raiding, and 45 other people had been killed in nearly the similar length. Through the years, HEC declined because the elephant inhabitants declined from about 80 to twelve people with 56 problematic elephants translocated out of the remoted wallet, the learn about printed.

A herd of wild elephants destroyed crops in villages near Halaguru village in Karnataka. File

A herd of untamed elephants destroyed vegetation in villages close to Halaguru village in Karnataka. Document
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Particular Association

Even now, 3 elephant herds numbering seven, 13 and 8 have crossed over and are locked at the AP facet. With the linear construction of the Koundinya sanctuary, the elephants get down into Vaniyambadi and Gudiyatham forests resulting in war with people, officers say. HEC has been happening on all sides of the border. The woodland groups right here chase herds to the AP facet handiest to look them chased again in every week’s time, they indicate.

The migratory herds’ motion alongside fragmented woodland landscapes may be fraught with risks from deserted mines, industries, electrocution, roads and railways, open wells, crop and assets injury and human casualties. 

Now not all migratory herds from Bannerghatta then again, transfer against Andhra Pradesh.  The map of crop injury despite the fact that, presentations an expanding development of herds transferring clear of the sanctuary. “Previous, crop injury was once observed just about the sanctuary. However that is now extending farther clear of the sanctuary’s obstacles annually,” says Ms. Karthikeyani. 

A spread of causes are attributed to this transformation in conduct of the herds. All migratory herds transfer with their younger ones who want nourishment. The degradation of forests within the sanctuary, availability of nutritious vegetation out of doors; land use patterns and disturbances to their habitat and encroachments have all destroyed the equilibrium of the elephant herds.

“This panorama is a singular elephant habitat comprising the Nilgiris and Japanese Ghats. Those inter-State corridors will be sure a viable inhabitants on this panorama,” says M. Santhanaraman, recommend, Madras Top Court docket.

The 3 State governments must coordinate to re-establish the elephant corridors on this panorama particularly by means of offering elephants move bridges alongside nationwide highways that reduce around the elephant migratory routes and in addition repair fragmented habitats, he says.

(With inputs from P.V. Srividya)

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