‘Small-scale’ safari at Bannerghatta National Park soon

Activists say it will only make things worse

The Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) will soon have safaris. However, Karnataka Forest Department (KFD) officials maintained that the safaris will be run on a “small scale” and the exercise is not aimed at being a commercial activity.

At present, the Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) is the closest safari option that Bengalureans and visitors to the city have.

B.N.N. Murthy, Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF), BNP told The Hindu that the department is planning to start the safari “shortly.”

“We will start with a trial run, which is mainly aimed at getting the elephants familiarised with vehicular movement. We also want to create awareness among villagers. This is not on commercial lines, and on a scale seen at Bandipur, for example. We are looking at the carrying capacity of the park before finalising the details,” he said.

Near Ragihalli, for instance, the same group of elephants keep moving around. Once they come to know these vehicles are not a threat to them, they will adapt to the situation, he explained.

The safaris, he said, apart from familiarisation for elephants, will help bring awareness among local people. “We are recreating our road network to enhance our visibility and movement to bring our park under the scientific forest and wildlife management. We are planning to run one or two vehicles in the morning and evening. It is not economically viable to run more, and the park is also very fragile. Revenue is not our criterion,” Mr. Murthy added.

Last October, two elephants were found dead in the Kodihalli range adjacent to the park. Officials had said preliminary investigations indicated electrocution. Activists had alleged that illegal electric fencing on private properties outside the park caused the death.

They are irked by the new proposal too. “It is already a very sensitive area. They have already reduced the Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ). Infrastructure projects are being planned. It is not a wise decision at all. It is going to make things worse,” said one of the activists.

Earlier last year, despite huge opposition to the proposal to reduce the regulated buffer zone around protected areas, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had given the green signal to reduce the ESZ of the BNP by around 100 sq.km.

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