Wildlife Top Brass Leads Community Interaction In Dhuntur, Karnataka
Karnataka’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) visits Dunthur village to tackle growing problem of Human-Elephant Conflict and interact with the community of afflicted farmers.
On July 15, 2018, Karnataka’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests-head of forest force (HOFF) Shri Punati Sridhar visited Dunthur village in the Ramanagara district of the state to discuss growing Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC) in the region. His day-long visit included community interactions, presentations on conflict mitigation measures and a visit to the Vanodaya Wildlife Trust field station.
The community meeting was attended by around 40 afflicted farmers, local political leaders, the Chairman of the Zilla Panchayat, the Director of the Agriculture Department-Ramanagara, Assistant Conservator of Forests K.D. Srinivas, Range Forest Officers Mr. Kiran Kumar, Mr. Kiran Karatangi and Mr. Vijay Mudubaagilu of Halagurur, Sangama and Mugguru ranges respectively, and other department staff. Ashwin Gurusrikar, Chairperson, Vanodaya Wildlife Trust and a Sanctuary’s Mud on Boots Project Leader, was also invited to present the Trust’s work on HEC mitigation to the gathering.
Crop depredation by elephants, delayed and inadequate compensation for losses, administrative apathy, lack of safety measures, the absence of rapid response teams, breakages in solar fences and threat to life were some of the urgent issues voiced by the afflicted farmers. Members of the Forest Department addressed some of these points, while Ashwin Gurusrikar articulated on preventive measures that the community can act upon independently. Ashwin encouraged the community to identify and close gaps in the barriers around the village that lie on private lands that are outside the jurisdiction of the Forest Department. It was noted that wild elephants are entering the village using pathways created by the villagers to lead their livestock into the forest to graze. Upon hearing this, many members of the community extended their cooperation for research and pilot initiatives to close these gaps. Other preventive and mitigation measures suggested based on the understanding of the village profile, elephant movement patterns, land-use and challenges faced by the people were Early Warning Systems using image-recognition cameras, low-cost mobile solar fences, mobile watch-towers strategically positioned in farms etc.
The PCCF then addressed the crowd and assured them that a coordination center to receive applications for compensation for damage by elephants would be set up at nearby Sathanur as opposed to the current center at Sangama, which is 35 km. away. He also promised to incorporate funds for the maintenance of solar fences and elephant proof trenches in the budget every year, and informed farmers of the government subsidy on solar fencing that is available to them. Having the ear and reassurance of the top most official of the Forest Department was encouraging to the community members who were able to air their grievances and seek solutions.
Shri Sridhar then visited the field station of Vanodaya Wildlife Trust at Dunthur and interacted with the Trust’s local volunteers. Ashwin appraised the PCCF of Vanodaya’s long-term engagement and activities in the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary and the PCCF sought suggestions on improving anti-poaching efforts from the team. The volunteers eagerly listed out crucial measures that can be taken for better wildlife protection and were pleased to have their contributions acknowledged by the PCCF.
Ashwin Gurusrikar is a Project Leader under the Sanctuary Nature Foundation’s Mud on Boots Project, a booster programme that has been designed to empower grassroots conservationists across India. He leads a team of volunteers that extends its support to the Forest Department of the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary and spearheads community conservation initiatives in villages that abut the sanctuary.
For details on the Mud on Boots Project and how to support conservationists like Ashwin, please write to