Jumbos' days out; villages sleepless in Wayanad

During monsoons, elephants raid villages for fruits

Kozhikode: Instances of herds of wild elephants straying into interior villages destroying crops and dwelling houses and posing a threat to the human life are increasing at an alarming rate in Wayanad district, according to residents. The attacks which were once limited to the monsoon season have taken place throughout the year of late, they say.

The wildlife attack is at its peak in monsoon season as ripe jackfruit and mango are the most endearing items on the menu of elephants. They feed on vegetables, tapioca, areca nut and coconuts, too. Mananthavadi MLA O.R. Kelu told DC that people no more feel safe living in their houses. “And it is tough to move around even during the day time,” he said. The MLA lives in Thirunelli panchayat, the most vulnerable panchayats in the district and has himself faced wildlife attacks many a time. Last week he led a crowd scaring away an elephant herd back to jungle.

Elephant herds entering human habitats is a regular affair in at least 15 panchayats including Thirunelli, Poothadi, Panamaram, Vakery, Thavinjal, Thalappuzha, Pulppalli, Mullankolly and Noolppuzha and the Sulthan Bathery municipality. “The governments talk only of compensation ( of '5 lakh per person killed) to victims, and not of ways to prevent attacks,” he said. Farmers say the increase in the rate of elwphant attack is a new phenomenon.

“Earlier the animal raids were restricted only to rainy season,” said Saju Chirakkarakuzhiyil, a farmer. “But now we are facing the threat round the year.” The hundreds of coconut trees his family had planted over the years have been completely destroyed in the last couple of years, he said. And it is not the farmers who alone suffer. The police has directed forest officials to seek protection before they visited a village.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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