Intruding the personal space of elephants, Bandipur

Nivedita Bala

Nivedita Bala

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

Incidents like these make a strong case for under-staffed Forest Departments to collaborate with serious volunteers to undertake joint patrols. Many conservation-minded wildlife enthusiasts would willingly devote their time, vehicles and fuel to work with the Forest Department to prevent illegal activities and even wildlife crime, if only they were empowered to do so.

We were driving back to Bangalore on 10th March 2013. That weekend saw an extraordinary rush to Bandipur, Mudumalai and Ooty. There were a lot of places on the Bandipur – Mudumalai (NH 67) highway where people were stopping to see wildlife. After we crossed the Kakkanhalla checkpost, we saw a car (Xylo) stop; two people casually got out, walked towards this pair of elephants and started taking pictures. I shot a video anticipating a charge, but the truck scared off the elephants.

The elephant is one of the most conflict-prone wildlife species in India, as these gentle giants are forced to compete with humans for space. Even inside protected areas like Bandipur, they are harassed on highways passing through them. People resort to dangerous activities like elephant taunting, and approaching the animals too close — and some of these result in human deaths. These incidents are often portrayed in the media in a skewed manner, and the elephant is demonized. This further reinforces the negative perception of the animal amongst the public, further worsening the already complicated situation.

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About the author

Nivedita Bala
The author is a wildlife enthusiast and organizes wildlife camps for children.


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