VIJAYAWADA: Foresters here are planning new ways to deal with elephant menace in the region as the herds stray into villages and eat away crops like sugarcane, paddy, plantains, vegetables etc, causing huge loss to farmers. Such herds also attack humans now and then.
A nine-member herd including a male and two calves were seen moving around the villages and forest areas in Palakonda, Parvathipuram, Kurupam and Pathapatnam forest ranges of Srikakulam and Parvathipuram Manyam districts in north Andhra region in the past four years.
The herd had migrated from Odisha forests.
With availability of plenty of food, in the form of crops raised by farmers in the fields and water bodies, the pachyderms are happy staying around. They gaily eat and drink and there were a few cases of them causing physical harm to the villagers. Recently, an elephant killed a person in Parvathipuram.
The efforts of farmers to drive the herds away from the fields by burning chilli powder, beating drums and adopting other tricks have not often been successful.
Foresters say they are facing a funds crunch vis-à-vis payment of compensation to farmers whose crops have been damaged and in release of wages to outsourced animal trackers.
The problem from elephants, they say, has been there for many years. Now it is in a more serious condition. Foresters are working out plans to persuade farmers to opt for alternative crops that elephants do not want to eat. Elephants find sugarcane crop as the ‘best to eat’ apart from bananas, paddy and vegetables.
There is also a plan to declare a crop holiday in areas where tuskers frequent, to eat away crops.
Srikakulam district forest officer Nisha Kumari said, “We have two elephants in our region and we are working out plans to get a permanent solution to the menace.”
Parvathipuram Manyam district forest officer GAP Prasuna said, “We have seen seven elephants including a male and two calves. They move around especially in the Komarada and Kurupam areas. They are getting habituated to eating paddy and vegetables when sugarcane is not available. We have deployed animal trackers to keep a tab on their movement day and night, to ensure safety to the people and avoid damage to crops.”
Meanwhile, senior forest officials from erstwhile north Andhra districts visited the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh recently to study how it deals with the elephants, in the hope these can be adopted in AP.
Visakhapatnam circle forest conservator Srikantanatha Reddy said, “We will address the issue of elephant menace on a permanent basis. We are working out several plans to deal with the situation.”...