Pollachi: Tension prevailed at Valparai estate in the early hours of Wednesday after two herds of wild elephants ransacked the public distribution system shop and a church, at Nalla Mudi estate and Thoni Mudi estate. According to a source from the forest department, a herd of 25 elephants entered the Valparai forest from the adjacent forests in Kerala in the early hours of Wednesday. The herd split into two groups of 12 and 13, and went in different directions. The first herd got into the compound of a ration shop being run by self-help groups in Nalla Mudi estate and gobbled up around 300 kgs of rice and 200 kgs of dhal stored inside.
Then, the herd reached Mudis Bazar area around 5 am and damaged the doors of a grocery shop run by one Katheresan. They reportedly ransacked the goods kept inside. The other group of elephants knocked down the gates of a church and damaged idols of mother Mary and Jesus, inside the compound.
Estate workers, who heard the elephants, informed the forest officials and a team of AP watchers arrived at the spot. The foresters and estate workers lit torches and drove the herd away, but they remained close to Nalla Mudi estate. The other group reportedly camped in Thoni Mudi estate, triggering panic.
“However, tea harvesting was not affected,” said a forester. “The workers went on with their routine with the help of forest department staff. Two APW teams were deployed to monitor the movement of elephants and divert them into the core forest area,” he added....