Officials said the elephant menace has increased in Thanjavur, Patrapalli, Siddareddypalli and other villages under Yadamari mandal. (Representational Photo: AFP)
TIRUPATI: The elephant menace has once again become a major worry in the tri-state junction areas like the Koundinya Wildlife Sanctuary in Kuppam, Palamaner, Punganur, Bangarupalem mandal and the Chittoor west ranges, flanked by Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Hordes of tuskers are straying into villages and damaging crops. The menace had declined after the heavy rains and flash floods in the district in November last. Once again, the scenario has worsened and made the lives of villagers, especially farmers, more tough.
Officials said the elephant menace has increased in Thanjavur, Patrapalli, Siddareddypalli and other villages under Yadamari mandal.
The laying of trenches and solar fencing did not help check the menace. Nearly 14 marauding tuskers ventured into human habitations and destroyed crops on Tuesday night. The villagers have pleaded with the government for a permanent solution to check the menace.
Similarly, Keeramanda village in Bangarupalem mandal has also been facing the wrath of wild elephants for the past fortnight. Villagers said that around 10 elephants, which were camping in the nearby forest area, ventured into human habitations and destroyed crops on Tuesday night.
"The forest department teams organised a drive to chase the wild elephants back to the forests in the last one week, but the pachyderms were defiant. They venture into our farmlands and destroy crops. Small farmers like us stopped farming activities. They are unable to bear the losses," said Thoti Murugaiah, a local farmer.
The elephant population in the district was only eight in 2012. Now, they number 90. Though fencing and trenches were arranged for some 4,500 hectares in the Palamaner range – as claimed by forest officials – the jumbos are walking into human habitations, raiding crops and attacking farmers.
Officials said the Koundinya wildlife sanctuary is facing a threat of encroachment and denudation. This resulted in a gradual loss of the animal habitat. The other factors that have been putting the wildlife under the stress for fodder and water, and forcing animals to venture into human habitations were overgrazing by the live stock and illegal collection of wood by the villagers.
They also say that the availability of crops like sugarcane, sorghum and ragi at villages close to the forest areas was attracting elephants, resulting in the man-animal conflict.