Coimbatore: The death of Madukkarai Maharaj due to skull fracture after it was captured by the forest department had shocked wildlife conservationists. But how did the friendly Kaatiayan roaming around Anubavi in Thadagam for about 10 years enter Madukkarai and turn into Madukkarai Maharaj? Tribals of Anubavi claim that the forest department stopping supply of borewell water to the small pond where Kaataiyan frequently visited to quench his thirst had forced the tusker to migrate from Anubavi to Madukkarai.
During the scorching summer, several small ponds inside the Coimbatore forest were left parched. To provide drinking water for wild animals, the forest department dug many borewells inside the forest and filled up the small ponds. The small pond called Vaannakuttai located at Anubavi near Thadagam in Coimbatore was filled with borewell water. Everyday the lone tusker, Madukarai Maharaj, drank water from the small pond. Due to the frequent crossing of an elephant, the Anubavi village farmers and residents asked the forest officials not to fill the pond with borewell water. The forest officials halted the borewell water supply to the pond, which forced the tusker to migrate to Madukarai area.
“Madukarai Maharaj was a gigantic tusker which had strayed in and around the Anubavi area for past 10 years. One year ago, the tusker entered my shop and damaged all the pooja items kept for sale. When I spotted the elephant near my shop, I pleaded with the elephant to go away from the shop. The tusker took nearly 30 lemons from my shop to eat and left the place. This elephant had not harmed anyone in this region.” said R. Devarajan, pooja shop owner of Anubavi Subramanyar Temple.
“Though the elephant damaged my shop, I have deep regrets for the demise of the elephant. We consider that the elephant as a Lord Ganesha. The mindless encroachment and destruction of the habitat is the root cause of the man-animal conflict. The tusker became violent when it was deprived of the drinking water at Anubavi. Due to the conflict, the forest staff and tusker lost their lives,” he added.
Here, tribals share water with jumbos
The tribes of the Malepathi village, located at Veerapandi village, near Thadagam area in Coimbatore, have been sharing water source with elephants for last 20 years. The Veerapandi village panchayat has constructed a water tank for the use of tribals. The panchayat administration supplies borewell water to the water tank daily. But the tribes who share their habitat with wild animals don’t cause any disturbance to elephants which come to drink water from the tank.
“During evening hours, more than 5 herds of the elephants drink water from our village tank. We won’t disturb the elephant movement and we allow the elephant to drink water peacefully. There is no man-animal conflict. We respect the elephants as representatives of jungle god. One year ago, the elephants have killed two persons in nearby villages. So far, no one from our tribal hamlet is killed by the elephants.” said P.Sakthivel, a tribal from Malepathi village.
“We have to give respect to the elephants and their habitat. If we enter into their living space and cause disturbance to them, they will retaliate with fury. We won’t disturb the elephants. So we are living in peace and harmony along with the elephants.” he added....