As heatwave sweeps Deccan Plateau, elephant herds begin seasonal migration to Wayanad

Representational image
Representational image. Photo: iStock

Wayanad: As mercury soars in the Deccan Plateau with water bodies in wildlife habitats drying up, the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) spread over 344 sq km is the sole refuge for herds of migratory elephants and other animals.

According to wildlife experts, animals from the hotter regions of Bandipur Tiger Reserve and Nagarhole National Park, both in Karnataka and Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, could move toward WWS in search of food and water.

Belur Makhna, a notorious wild elephant, had entered settlements in Wayanad and trampled to death Panachiyil Ajeesh, a native of Chaligadda on the premises of a house at Padamala on February 10.

The rogue elephant accompanied by a companion has evaded the Wayanad Rapid Response Team's repeated attempts to tranquilise it by slipping into safe zones in Karnataka forests. The hide-and-seek has been going on for more than two weeks.

No water scarcity this year in WWS
Wayanad Wildlife Warden Dinesh Kumar told Onmanorama there is sufficient water in WWS for one more month. “We have increased elephant sightings in Wayanad and new herds are joining WWS for the seasonal shifting,” said Kumar. “As elephant crossings have increased, we have alerted the public to be careful while driving through the sanctuary.” The Sulthan Bathery-Pulpally Road and Sulthan Bathery-Mysore Road witness elephant crossing throughout the summer.

The Forest Department has also activated watch towers in remote fire-prone spots, for early detection and ensured the services of experienced tribespeople.

Among the migratory animals, elephants constitute the majority. As elephants lack sweat glands it is tough to survive in hotter regions without sufficient water to cool their giant bodies by spraying and consuming.

“Elephants need up to 180 kg of food daily, for which they need large resources,” said noted veterinarian Dr Arun Zachariah. “Their movement pattern towards Wayanad is only a seasonal fluctuation in their movement pattern.”

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