Tusker dies trying to cross rail barricade in Bandipur


A tusker aged around 15 years died while trying to surmount and cross the rail barricade installed along the forest boundary in the Moleyur range of the Bandipur Tiger Reserve.

The incident took place on Tuesday morning and the elephant was returning to the forest when it tried to cross the rail barricade but died in the process.

“Based on the preliminary observation it is suspected that the elephant may have stood on the lower railing in its efforts to cross over to the other side and slipped. In the process the elephant may have landed on the parallel beam and suffered a compression in the chest given its huge body and heavy weight’’, said S.R. Natesh, Director, Bandipur Tiger Reserve.

He said when the elephant slipped from the railing, the lower portion between its chest and underbelly took the hit and suffered compression resulting in its suffocation. There was no other physical injury which reinforces the speculation that the tusker suffocated, said Mr. Natesh.

This is the second incidence of an elephant suffocating to death trying to cross the rail barricade, the earlier being in Nagarahole 2 years ago.

In June this year, an adult female elephant got wedged between the ground and the lower railing in its attempt to squeeze itself out and was choking. But the local people near Vasthihalla – also near Bandipur- saw the elephant struggling and informed the Forest Department staff who reached the spot and freed the elephant.

The State government has taken up barricading of forest boundaries using rail tracks in a bid to prevent elephants from straying into human landscape and to minimise the conflict situation. But the barricade design has come under flak from wildlife activists and experts. They want the height of the barricade to be increased so that it acts as a deterrent to the elephants from trying to cross over. Sources said the barricades laid in the initial stage of the project had a height of 2 metres but it has subsequently been increased. Also, the gap between the two parallel beams is said to be wide which tempts the sub-adult elephants to try to squeeze through which was fraught with danger as indicated by the tusker’s death.

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Sagar Biswas

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