Minister Khandre seeks funds release from Center, says 11 people died in past 15 days in Karnataka due to human-animal conflict

06:44 PM Sep 05, 2023 | PTI |

Bengaluru: Karnataka Minister for Forest, Ecology and Environment Eshwar Khandre on Tuesday said that the department requires at least Rs 500 crore to take up works aimed at preventing human-animal conflict, and pointed out that just in the last 15 days, 11 people have died in their encounters with wildlife.


It is imperative for the government to take urgent measures to prevent such incidents in the future, he said.

The minister was speaking to reporters after a meeting with officials from the forest and home departments.

Noting that most of these incidents have occurred during conflicts with elephants, Khandre said Rs 500 crore was needed to erect railway barricades and prevent entry of wild elephants into human habitats, and a request has been made to the Centre in this regard.

He cited a report by experts from the Indian Institute of Science, which has recommended railway barricades as an effective and long-term measure to prevent straying of elephants.


Construction of railway barricades per kilometre will cost about Rs 1.5 crore, he said, adding that Karnataka has Rs 500 crore funds collected by the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA), but the Centre is not releasing it though he made a specific request citing the crisis in the state.

Pointing out that Karnataka has the highest number of elephants in the entire country, with a population of 6,395, the minister said human-animal conflicts have reduced after railway barricades, trenches and solar electric fences were erected by the forest department.

There are seven elephant operation forces, which are immediately driving the elephants that enter the human habitats back into the forest too, he added.

Every life is precious. Neither animals nor humans should die from human-wildlife conflict. However, efforts are being made to find a permanent solution to prevent death from elephant attacks, he said.

Reiterating that railway barricades are said to be the best solution to avoid elephant menace in the state, Khandre further said there is a need to construct railway barricades with a total length of about 640 km, but only 312 km could be completed.

Stating that the forest area is decreasing and the number of wild animals is increasing, resulting in an increase in conflicts between humans and wild animals, the minister said, ”Experts are of the opinion that this time, as there has been very less rain than usual and due to the problem of drinking water and food in the forest, wild animals are coming to human habitats. In this background, discussions were held to provide suitable food for wildlife within the forest.”

Some parts of elephant corridors are used for road and rail transport and the installation of electric poles and water pipes, the minister said. If there is encroachment by private individuals, it will be vacated ruthlessly and the elephant corridor will be protected, he warned.

Responding to a question, he said illegal stone mining will not be allowed inside the forest or on the edge of the forest. Criminal prosecution will be initiated if such mining is found to be taking place. He said that action will be taken against the forest officers as well if they are found guilty.

As many as 38 elephants have died in the state this year, the minister said. Among these, one elephant died due to train collision and 10 died due to electrocution. The minister also said that two elephants were killed by gunshots while 25 elephants died of natural causes.


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