Daijiworld Media Network – Mangaluru (MS)
Mangaluru, Dec 10: Forest department officials reveal that the construction of a retaining wall along Shiradi Ghat is impeding the natural movement of elephants in their traditional corridor, extending from Charmadi to Shiradi, Bisile, Pushpagiri, and into Kerala.
The interference with this elephant corridor has resulted in elephants encroaching upon human habitats on the outskirts of forests, causing concerns over crop destruction and, more critically, posing a risk to human lives.
In recent weeks, villages bordering the Western Ghats have reported frequent crop damage, prompting an investigation into the causes. Forest officials attribute this behavior to the hindrance created by the retaining wall, constructed on both the valley and hill sides throughout Shiradi Ghat.
While the retaining wall serves the purpose of highway safety, forest officials argue that it disrupts the elephants' movement. Animal underpasses, measuring 10 feet in height, are provided at only three locations – Periyashanti, Rekya, and Addahole. However, officials assert that these three underpasses are inadequate for a forest spanning 50 km.
The 10-foot height of the retaining wall makes it challenging for elephants to climb over, limiting their movement to one side of the forest. Forest officials note that the buffer zone on the outskirts of forests, where human colonies have now developed, was previously uninhabited by humans. This shift has contributed to elephants venturing into residential areas.
Antony Mariyappa, DCF of Mangaluru division, stated, "Elephants seek alternative paths when their regular routes are obstructed, leading them to venture into farms and streets. Their presence in human habitats is not solely due to food scarcity in the forest."
Dr Karikalan, Range Forest Officer in Mangaluru, added, "Elephants are nomadic creatures. While moving through their corridor, they may occasionally enter nearby farms. Our staff makes efforts to guide them back to the forest."