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Lumbering beasts feast on standing crops worth Rs 30 lakh

A herd of 40 elephants strayed into 3 tribal hamlets adjacent to Bannerghatta National Park; forest department says 'it is impossible to stop such attacks'

At least 40 elephants strayed into three colonies adjoining the Bannerghatta National Park yesterday morning, cutting a swathe through standing crops worth around Rs 30 lakh and trampling the last hope of a decent life of over 11,000 people residing in these hapless hamlets.

Incidents of man-animal conflict are not new to residents of Batrayanaoddi, Chilrayandoddi and Akkipikki which are situated dangerously close to the national park.
 
In a bid to avoid the wrath of these lumbering beasts, usually, farmers cut their crop in January. But this time they were caught unawares as the tuskers played a trick and came out a little early to feast on the harvest.

According to eyewitnesses, the farmers had just finished spraying pesticides on their crops of ragi, paddy and gram, when they spotted the herd rushing towards their fields. Though they put up a brave face and managed to drive the elephants back into the forest, the crops were destroyed completely.

 "We face this situation every year. The government has allotted us plots here, as part of its rehabilitation plan. Earlier, we used to sell toys and beg near signals in Bangalore. Now that we have started cultivation, these elephants are forcing us to go back to begging," said Maha Vishnu, Akkipikki tribe.

Another jumbo attack
The elephants have been invading the habitats every year since their establishment in 200o, but forest official say it is impossible to stop such attacks completely.

"The loss, however, can be minimised if people are alert. An elephant lives up to 60 years and the cultivation has been happening here only since the last few years. All we can do is chase these elephants back into the core areas of the forest with the help of villagers," said S Chandrashekar Range Forest Officer.

Wildlfe Warden Sharat Babu chipped in, "Man has ventured into the animal territory, animals have not come to human settlements. Animals by nature are wanderers, so we should not be surprised if we spot an elephant around us. The best thing we can do is to learn to coexist, instead of thinking of eliminating them,"

60-70 yrs
The average lifespan of an elephant

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