Elephants are among some of the smartest animals. And there have been numerous examples of this. The latest one, however, captured on CCTV cameras, has left everyone mesmerized in awe. These elephants are seen smartly bypassing railway track barricades to go on the other side to feed on the vegetation. The inability to contain the animals within the barrier has now caused quite a headache for the forest department.
The incident is from Mysore’s Bandipur Tiger Reserve. In a 41-second clip, the elephant is seen crawling through a barricade like an army soldier. He bents his forelegs and hind legs, belly touching the ground. Slowly but assuredly, the elephant inches to the other side, patiently and successfully completing the task.
Another similar incident from the same state of Karnataka shows the dexterity of the tusker, elegantly bypassing the barrier. This incident took place at the Durbare Range Reserve Forest in Kodagu. In this 39-second video, a female elephant is seen, cross-legged, crossing the barrier. She first puts her right foreleg and then left. She then crosses her hind legs, successfully taking her body from between the barriers, on to the other side. The two accompanying elephants patiently see her and follow suit soon after.
Over the years, such incidents have increased, possibly because of humans invading the natural habitats of wild animals, resulting in the latter wandering for foods and ending up near civilization. To prevent this, forest officials have employed several measures in the past. As an elephant control measure, they have dug trenches on the edges of the forest. Unfortunately, though, the elephants would push mud with their foot into the trench, covering it entirely and walking over.
Electric fences have failed in many instances. Installed by the forest department to keep jumbos at the bay, elephants would push down or hit the wooden poles with tree logs, make way for themselves and cross the barrier without touching the electric fence. In some cases, the elephants would even get the fuse off by connecting the wires of the electric fence with their tusks.
Railway track barriers, too, have proven to be futile against these animals. With INR 500 crore allocated from the state’s 2015 budget, fences have been installed at the fringe of the reserve forests.
Trying to keep away elephants with such measures have certainly stirred controversies with conservationist taking an anti stance. They argue that these steps will not only not prevent elephants from approaching but may even injure them. In the past, elephants have indeed died when crossing the fences and have gotten injured as well. So, their arguments stand true.
With the latest incidents coming into the limelight, the forest departments have a task in hand: How to prevent elephants from bypassing the barrier again? Because these large animals rarely forget the route. They would come back again from the same path, crossing the same barrier. What steps the forest department takes, which must also keep in mind the safety and well-being of these jumbos, are yet to be seen.
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