Mahouts oppose shifting of elephant camp to tiger reserve
Bangalore: When the Tiger Reserves across the country are vacating the residential facilities within the Reserves the state forest department is planning to move more than 24 families in the core area of Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
The department is planning to reestablish the elephant camp in Rampura Range of the Reserve and planning to shift the mahouts and their family members in the camp. Renovation work on the quarters is underway at Rampura area and the camp will house about 23 elephants including five calves.
The new guidelines from the Supreme Court clearly states that the guest house facilities must be moved outside the in-violate areas of Tiger Reserves. Along with this, there has been long pending demand form the wildlife experts that the elephant camps inside the tiger areas must be removed, especially when the forest department is working to move out tribesmen giving them compensations.
Meanwhile, the mahouts who looking after the camp elephants inside the Bandipur Tiger Reserve have opposed shifting of their residential quarters inside the Tiger Reserve. They have written to the higher authorities that the education and health of their children will be at risk if they shift with families inside the forests.
“We cannot send our children to school neither we can commute outside the forest in case of an emergency. The nearest market place is Maddur located about 11 km from the Proposed quarters,”said a mahout from the Bandipur Reserve.
But the forest department feels that any elephant camp requires large amount of green fodder and water, hence Rampura range is the suitable place for the camp and mahouts. H C Kantharaj, Director of Bandipur Reserve said that the elephants requires large amount of green fodder and only thick forests such as tiger reserves can provide that kind of food.
“Majority of tiger reserves house elephant camps due to availability of water and fodder. Each elephant requires about 250 kg of grass per day and we are talking about keeping 23 elephants in Rampura camp.
The mahouts have requested to stay outside the reserve and we are thinking about it. The buildings of forest department in Maddur will be used as residences of mahouts and they will be ferried between the camp and residential areas," Kantharaj said.
Vinay Luthra, PCCF Wildlife, said that the issue of elephants camps inside the Tiger reserves will be discussed in the upcoming review meeting on December 27th. "In fact many elephant camps inside the forest areas such as Sunkadakatte, Moorkal and Nagarhole have been closed down in the previous years. The camps will be shifted outside the forests once the suitable site is decided," the officer said.