Formal inauguration done; tourists to be allowed only in January 2023
The third Elephant Camp in Kodagu at Harangi, which is the ninth elephant camp in Karnataka was inaugurated last Saturday. Along with the Harangi Elephant Camp, a Tree Park was also inaugurated.
The State Government had released Rs. 80 lakh for the project that will ease the burden of the existing elephant camps. Already, Kodagu has two elephant camps, one at Dubare and another at Mathigodu near Anechowkur Gate that borders Mysuru. There are eight elephant camps in Karnataka including the two in Kodagu and the Harangi Camp will be the ninth in the State.
Madikeri MLA M.P. Appachu Ranjan inaugurated the two new tourist attractions. From the Dubare Elephant Camp, six elephants have been shifted to Harangi Elephant Camp. They are Rama (68), Ekadanta (52), Maruti (21), Subramani (35), Vikrama (58) and Vijaya (48).
The eight jumbo camps house more than 100 tamed elephants that are used to rescue wild animals and for logging purposes at Government timber depots. These elephants have been shifted to Harangi in the first phase and more elephants will be moved gradually and this move will ease the pressure on Dubare Camp that has over 31 elephants (the highest in Karnataka).
As per an order by the Karnataka High Court, elephant camps cannot be congested and not more than 15 elephants can be housed in one camp. At present, six elephants have found a new home and more will be moved as and when the funds are released.
Hundreds of tourists who had come to Kodagu on account of Dasara holidays came to the newly-inaugurated Camp and were mesmerised by the beauty of the place located in the backwaters of Harangi Reservoir.
The Tree Park and the Elephant Camp have been set up in a 40-acre land and of that, 10 acres have been reserved for the elephant camp. Staff quarters have been constructed for Mahouts, Kavadis and their families along with a kitchen and a store room. Facilities of boating in the backwaters have been made and basic facilities like drinking water and toilets have been provided for the tourists.
As a precaution, the electrical wiring has been done underground to prevent any accidents either to the elephants or the lush green forests. Final touches are being given to the underground electrification project and works are on to provide drainage facilities. Though the formal inauguration of the Harangi Elephant Camp has been done, tourists will be allowed only from January 2023, said Forest Department officials.
The land on which the Elephant Camp and the Tree Park have been established is located at Athur Reserve Forest. The place, located near the Harangi Dam backwaters, is ideal to set up the elephant camp. The Athur Range Forest extends up to 2,000 acres and it is an ideal elephant habitat with plenty of water and green swathes.
The funds for the camp have been released from Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA). Apart from setting up a new elephant camp, there are plans to initiate other related development programmes including developing the camp as a tourist centre and at the same time provide shelter to the elephants.