Thursday 21 February 2013

The elephant sanctuary near Kolar

The elephants returned to these forests after more than 200 years. The elephants came in large numbers from the neighbouring states seeking food  and shelter.
The State initially rejoiced over the return of the elephants and quickly declared it as its only elephant sanctuary. The euphoria lasted just a few months before the familiar tale of man-animal conflict began and 50 people lost their live to elephants while a dozen of these majestic pachyderms were electrocuted.
In the last decade, more and more elephants have been migrating to this reserve which today is the only sanctuary in the State with a population of Asian elephants.
Strangely this sanctuary is more near to Karnataka though the sanctuary is not situated here. This is the Kaundinya wildlife sanctuary which is near Palamner in the state of Andhra Pradesh and it is just 30 kilometers away form Kolar.
The sanctuary is in Chittor district and it is just 120 kms from Bangalore. It is just a little more than two and half hour journey from Bangalore.
This is the only sanctuary in  Andhra Pradesh with a population of Asian elephants which migrated after 200 years from neighbouring regions of Bannerghatta and Anekal near Bangalore and forests of Hosur in Tamil Nadu.
Between 1983 and 1986, nearly 39 elephants moved into Kaundinya forcing the Andhra Government to act quickly and declare it as an elephant reserve (It was in 199-0 that the elephant reserve was formed).
Today, there are 75 elephants and all of them are from the forests of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The sanctuary has high hills and deep valleys with dry deciduous forests and thorny scrubs. These are interspersed with trees. These forests have small ponds, tanks and the Kaindinya and Kaigal rivers which are tributaries of Palar.
Apart from elephants, you can easily spot sloth bears, Chettal, Panther, Sambar, Porcupine, Wild Boar, Chowsingha, Starred Tortoise, Slender Loris, Jackal, Jungle Fowl and Jungle cat.
Unfortunately, the man–animal conflict that drove these elephants from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are now being replayed here.
Over grazing, illegal felling of trees, collection of firewood, insufficient fodder have led to increased conflicts between elephants and man.
More than 50 people have been killed so far by elephants, and 12 elephants have been electrocuted by villagers. The Forest Department of Andhra  has found that Kalyani Dam in Chamala Valley, a part of Sri Venkateshwara National Park, is a good habitat for elephants. An elephant corridor is being planned between Koundinya Wildlife Sanctuary and Sri Venkateshwara National Park.
The sanctuary is 30 kms from Kloar and 60 kms from Chitoor. It covers an area of  358 sq kms and it is surrounded by small towns like V.Kota, Ramakuppam and Bandarlapalle.
October to April is the best time to visit the sanctuary. A number of buses and private transport to the sanctuary are available from Palamaneru or Palamneer, which is 41 km from Chittoor.
The nearest railway stations is Palamaneru.
The best place to stay is at the forest guest house at Palamaneru, Madanapalli and Horseley Hills. For more details contact the  Divisional Forest Officer, Chittoor (West). Ph: 08572-232458, Forest Range Officer, Palamaner, Ph: 08579-251027.


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