Speeding bus kills Rowdy Ranga, 46-year-old elephant, near Nagarhole forest

Rowdy Ranga was badly injured after a private bus hit the pachyderm in the early hours of Monday, near Nagarhole Tiger Reserve in Karnataka.
Speeding bus kills Rowdy Ranga, 46-year-old elephant, near Nagarhole forest
Speeding bus kills Rowdy Ranga, 46-year-old elephant, near Nagarhole forest
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In a tragic incident, 'Rowdy Ranga', an elephant of the Matthigodu Elephant Camp in Nagarhole, died after being hit by a private bus in the early hours of Monday. The incident took place around 3.30 am on the Virajpet-Bengaluru road, near the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve.

According to a note by the Forest Department, Hunsuru division, the incident occurred due to the negligence of the driver of Kalpaka Travels bus, as he was found to be speeding on the road. Police officials from Ponnampet Police Station are investigating the incident. The bus was reportedly traveling from Kannur to Bengaluru and was being driven by Ismail Nalakath Bin Khadar, a 40-year-old driver hailing from Kannur.   

46-year-old Ranga was severely injured in the incident in the hip and the back, while 35 passengers, traveling in the bus, escaped unharmed. Veterinary doctors from the Rajiv Gandhi National Park attended to the elephant.

However, in spite of attempts to treat Ranga, he breathed his last at around 7.30 am on Monday. Ranga was brought to the elephant camp in Nagarhole around three years ago from Bannerghatta National Park limits in Ramanagara.

A senior forest official explained that it was common for elephants to be left free in the night. "The elephants are fed at 5 pm and then they are let out and are fed the next morning. This is a common practice at the park. Incidents like these happen on this road. One of the common reasons is because of the increased traffic on the roads through Nagarhole following the ban on night traffic in Bandipur and Nagarhole roads,” says Kantharaju HC, a retired forest official.

Kantharaju recounts that an Indian gaur was killed in a similar incident on the same road two years ago. “In that incident, the animal died on the spot. Drivers go at high speed on the roads at night. There should at least be speed breakers on the road," added Kantharaju.

Night traffic is currently banned in the Bandipur Tiger reserve. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have consistently agreed on a night traffic ban while Kerala has been opposing the move. Bandipur and Nagarhole tiger reserves are 90 km apart in the southern part of Karnataka.

The elephant population in Hassan and Kodagu districts of Karnataka has been threatened by repeated construction activities that have resulted in the loss of lives and fragmentation of habitats in the last four decades. The Hemavathi, Harangi, and Chiklihole reservoirs have come up during this time, along with highways, power lines, pipelines and hydel projects. This has disconnected the forests of Kattepura and Yedavanadu-Aanekaadu in north Karnataka from the southern forests of Dubaree, Mavukal, Demavachi in Kodagu district.

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