KOZHIKODE: People here increasingly feel that the state's wildlife conservation policy is against farmers leaving their farmlands due to recurring wildlife raids. Those who stay back turn hostile to nature.
The man-animal conflict is scaling up, and the number of deaths from wildlife attacks registered a sharp increase.
Elephant herds, bison, deer, wild boar, monkeys and peacocks entering the human habitat devastate farmlands within a small period.
In response to a query in the Parliament on June 28, 2019, the Union ministry for environment and forest had said that in the last five years, 2,398 had lost lives to elephant attacks, 494 of them last year, as per the records. In the state, the annual average death toll is 20.
According to Fr Thomas Joseph Therakam, president of Neethi Vedi, an NGO that provides free legal aid, the citizen's right to life and property, enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution has been continuously violated while the state remains a mute spectator to the destruction of crops and uprooting of the farming community from their moorings.
"It's high time the state took a policy of coexistence," Mr Therakam said, adding that the farmer is being made a victim in the name of conservation.
"If the present scenario continues, Wayanad would be a place ideal for wildlife and wildlife enthusiasts alone."
He feels the compensation fixed for crop loss and unchecked animal raids into farmlands was a pittance. The group has submitted a memorandum to Rahul Gandhi MP seeking his intervention.
Greens also voiced the same opinion against the state's policy of pitting farmers against nature.
Wayanad Prakrithi Samrakshana Samithy president N. Badusha says more animals now live on the fringes and they regularly raid farmlands as forests are dying.
"The first thing the concerned department should do is the restoration of the health of jungles. Alien crops are spreading like wildfire resulting in forcing the wildlife into farmlands for fodder," he said.
"Let the wildlife confined to the jungle, and it is up to the forest department to ensure that they get everything inside the forest. The human invasion should be resisted and defeated."