Lockdown: Wild animals are having a gala time in Karnataka

Bengaluru: It looks like wild animals are having a gala time during the lockdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic they are getting bolder and becoming explorers as areas outside their habitat are becoming quiet.

At some places adjoining forests in Karnataka, particularly in Kodagu district, elephants were seen walking on the roads happily. Spotted and Sambar deer were also found roaming freely.

“Wild-life is always happy when environment becomes quiet, they (wild animals) are roaming not only in their own areas but also outside…in forest fringe areas,” Karnatakas Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Sanjay Mohan told ‘PTI’ on Saturday.

Due to human activity and busy roads otherwise, they never used to venture out, he said. Now, even spotted deer is trying to come out and ‘see what all is happening. They (wild animals) are basically free-ranging animals; when they find that their surroundings have become quiet, they tend to come out and explore.

“Elephants are already used to going out of forests; now with quieter environs, they are happily moving on roads like any other people, and they are coming out because vehicles are not there.”

But Forest department officials also said with restrictions on movement of people and vehicles, hunters are on the prowl again.

Mohan, also the State’s Chief Wild Life Warden, said there has been a spurt in the number of hunting cases during the lockdown period, adding, the Department has taken measures, including stepping up night patrolling, to curb such activities.

Animal handlers in the Department and Zoos have been instructed to strictly follow COVID-19 guidelines like wearing masks, gloves and maintaining safe distance, he said. “In Zoos, they were following such instructions earlier also, now they have become strict.”

Mohan said a man was killed in a bear attack in Ballari district earlier this week, which “could be one of the fall-outs of COVID-19 (with bears becoming bolder and venturing out).”

He said the Department has continued to keep cages wherever human-wild life conflict is more and “leopards are getting captured.”

Karnataka is home to around 6,000 elephants, 500 tigers, 2,500 leopards and 600-700 Lion-tailed macaque, according to him.

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