The Rayalaseema region was once known to be home to the pachyderm. Over seven lakh infantry, 32,000 war horses and 550 elephants were known to have participated in the successful conquest of Raichur fort by the Vijayanagar emperor Sri Krishnadevaraya in 1520 A.D., Baptist Tavernier, French traveller and diamond merchant, also recovered the presence of elephants during his travels in the region in the 17th century. The area, he said was rich in forest with a sizable population of elephants and tigers. The elephants were used for participating battles or logging operations.
That changed, when the summer of 1984 saw drought conditions in the Hosur-Dharmapuri reserve forest of Tamilnadu and the adjoining Bannerghatta national park in Karnataka. With their habitat turning inhospitable, it was inevitable for the elephants to move out in search of alternative territory. A small herd of 9 elephants from Hosur inaugurated the entry across the Andhra Pradesh border into Palamaenar in March 1984. Another herd of 22 elephants from Bannerghatta national Park followed soon. The quiet incursion of these herds heralded a new chapter in the natural history of the region. The visitors from Hosur started rampaging through crops and spreading terror in the hearts of villagers living on the edges of the forest.
Heartened by the revival of the elephant population in their centuries-old habitat, the Andhra Pradesh Government set up Koundinya Wildlife Sanctuary near palamaner exclusively for their protection and conservation under the centrally –funded Project Elephant. The 360 Sq.Km Sanctuary, located on the banks of the Koundinya river, opens up a vital corridor to their habitats in Tamilnadu and Karnataka. The Koundinya Reserve has other species like panther Cheethal, sloth bear, slender loris, and porcupine and is also listed as an important bird sanctuary by Birdlife International.
To protect and conserve these Elephants the government of Andhra Pradesh In exercise of the powers conferred by section 18 of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (Central Act.53 of 1972) the Governor of Andhra Pradesh hereby declares the as a wildlife sanctuary called as “Koundinya Wildlife Sanctuary”. Further additional area also added to the “Koundinya Wildlife Sanctuary”. to have contiguity to the movement of Elephants thus the Government of Andhra Pradesh, Environment, Forest Science & Technology (For.II) Department, Hyderabad, vide G.O.Ms.No.106, dt.09.12.2003 has issued notification for “Rayala Elephant Reserve”.
The elephant population in Andhra Pradesh has seen many ups and downs over the years; suffice it to say that while Karnataka, Tamilandu and Kerala each talk in terms of thousands of elephants, it is barely a three digit figure in Andhra Pradesh. Given dedicated efforts aimed at protection, conservation and habitat improvement.