Gundlupet: Heavy rain that has been lashing Chamarajanagar district over the last 15 days has brought relief to the denizens of Bandipur National Park. Almost all the lakes inside the Park have been filled up.
The Park has received good pre-monsoon showers and nearly half of Bandipur range, parts of Kundkere, Gundre, Hediyala, and Moolehole ranges, received rain, said T. Hiralal, Director, Project Tiger Bandipur. The Bandipur National Park is spread across 1,02,700 hectares (1,027 sq kms) and the forest area covers a total of 13 ranges including 3 in Bandipur, four in Gundlupet and 6 in Hediyala.
Bandipur was going through one of the worst spells of drought and was ravaged by major forest fires that also claimed the life of a Forest Guard in Kalkare range. Vast tracts of forests and vegetation were reduced to ashes in the fire that occurred in the first three months of 2017. The worst affected ranges were Kalkare, Gundre, Maleyur and Gopalaswamy Hills.
Among the 373 lakes in Bandipur, 350 lakes had completely gone dry. Most of the lakes are now filled with sufficient water owing to heavy rainfall. Though the Forest Department had drilled some borewells using solar energy, they have not been effective as the ground water level was depleting.
As of to signal the filling up of lakes and increasing greenery, animals that had migrated to Kabini, Nagarahole, Mudumalai forests have returned to Bandipur. It is common for wild animals to migrate to other areas in search of water from January to May. “This year, the migration has come down to over 50 percent due to the measures taken by the Forest Department including solar borewells and other artificial ways of filling up the lakes. The rain that lashed initially was absorbed by the ground and now water bodies are getting filled up,” Hiralal said.
In Bandipur range, 20 lakes including Mallikatte, Subbarayanakatte and Venkatappanapaala, have been filled to the brim. In Kundkere, all the 11 lakes including Kuntabasappanakatte, Hosakere, Kalikatte, Doddakere, and Chigurumaduvinakatte have been filled.
Likewise, 15 lakes out of 30 lakes in Gopalaswamy Range, 15 lakes including Navilukere and Madakere in Moolehole, 9 lakes in Maleyur Range including Seegewadikere and Dodda Dasanakatte, 21 lakes out of 26 lakes in Hediyala Range including Shambhukatte, Marigowdanakatte and Ankappanakatte and 33 lakes in Omkar range including Shanthakatte, Halakatte and Jammanakatte have been filled.
Bamboo sprouts bring back elephants
Sprouting bamboo trees has resulted in increased sighting of elephants in Bandipur, Kabini and Nagarahole forests. Elephants are feasting on fresh sprouting of bamboo around lantana weeds. During the recently held elephant census, it was found that bamboo shoots had started sprouting below the weeds. This has made elephants to return to the forests and the maximum elephants were counted where bamboo growth was dense. Bamboo is the lifeline of forests and due to drought and absence of bamboo, elephants had resorted to peeling off tree barks for food.