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A 'rice-loving' jumbo wrecks havoc in Kerala village; destroys ration shop


Published on: January 27, 2023 | Updated on: January 27, 2023

Besides "Arikomban", two other elephants also used to raid ration shops in the region and they were locally known as 'Chakkakomban" and "Murlivaalan".  Representational Image/DC

Idukki (Kerala): A rice-loving wild tusker, which frequently strays into human settlements allegedly in search of the grain, destroyed a ration shop in an estate in this Kerala district in the early hours of Friday, villagers here complained.

The rogue elephant, known as "Arikomban" among local people due its love for "ari" (rice), has been a nightmare for those in Santhanpara in this high range district for some time.

"Ari" means rice and "komban" means tusker in local parlance.

However, wildlife officials said the shop is located in the traditional route of the jumbos and they are yet to confirm whether the same jumbo was raiding ration shops.

The elephant raided the ration shop, located in Panniyar Estate, four times in the last 10 days and destroyed it completely this morning, Antony, the shop owner, said.

The shop was already in a dilapidated condition due to the frequent jumbo attacks and it was completely ruined in the latest outing, he said.

"It used to eat rice and other provisions stored in the ration shop. But, this morning, the elephant could not find anything to eat as we already shifted all articles to another room anticipating the attack," the desperate man said.

Detailing its modus operandi, Antony said the elephant usually raids the tiny shop and removes its "koluthu" (metal lock) and eats the rice after putting it on the ground from the sacks.

Besides 'ari', sugar and wheat are also its favourites.

Besides "Arikomban", two other elephants also used to raid ration shops in the region and they were locally known as 'Chakkakomban" and "Murlivaalan", he said.

The owner said it was tough to run the shop in the same place as the animal would attack it again.

Asked why the elephants were particularly raiding ration shops, Punyavel, another villager, said these animals somehow tasted rice and are frequently coming in search of places where it is available.

Punyavel's grocery shop, located at Chokkanad Estate, was also attacked by another elephant recently.

He said the only solution is to capture these rogue jumbos just like Palakkad Tusker-7 (PT-7), another wild jumbo which had been wreaking havoc in a few villages in Palakkad district for over two years, which was caught on Sunday last.

Meanwhile, a forest official told PTI that besides the ration shop, a house was also destroyed in elephant attack in the early morning.

"But, we are yet to confirm whether the jumbo attacked the shop and the house were the same," he said.

The official also said they cannot say that the jumbo was particularly raiding ration shops.

"These areas are the traditional route of wild elephants. These estates, shops and 'layams' (small houses of estate workers) all are located in the route. These jumbos do not go to any other area as they traditionally belonged to these places," he explained.

An all-party meeting was also held in Idukki the other day seeking a permanent solution to end the jumbo menace.