Two forest personnel were injured, one of them seriously, when they were attacked by an elephant inside Koundinya elephant sanctuary, close to Kaluvapalle hamlet of Palamaner mandal, on Wednesday.
Following reports of crop raids by wild elephants in the mandal, located besides the forest road between Palamaner and Gudiyattam, since a couple of days, a 10-member team of the forest division (Chittoor) rushed to area to drive the elephants back into the sanctuary.
The officials spotted a lone elephant, which is familiar to the forest staff and farmers in the region, moving with three other elephants. Suddenly, the elephant got separated from the herd and disappeared into the thickets.
When the forest team was returning after driving away another herd into the thickets, two members of the team — Forest Beat Officer Kiran Kumar and Assistant Beat Officer Chittibabu — were walking behind other members of the team.
The two men, in their 30s, were negotiating a narrow forest path flanked by thick bushes. When they heard a rustling noise from behind, the two looked back only to see the gigantic lone elephant just three feet away, and three other elephants following it.
With lightning speed, the animal hit them with its trunk, and charged to catch one of them. Losing their balance, the two fell sideways into the bushes. The commotion drew the advancing teammates back, while the pachyderms vanished from the spot.
Kiran Kumar, who suffered a fracture in his hand and muscle tear in the shoulder was in shock. Chittibabu with bruises in the face was in a trauma without being able to speak or move. While Chittibabu was shifted to SVIMS Hospital in Tirupati, Kiran Kumar was treated at Government Hospital in Palamaner. Whether Chittibabu was trampled by the elephant was yet to be ascertained.
The manner in which the herd stalked the forest officials and attacked them has baffled forest officials. Forest Range Officer (Palamaner) Madanmohan Reddy said the forests abutting Koundinya elephant project are known for movement of herds in small numbers.
“In this incident, our men saw the lone elephant in the company of regular herd members, and leading the attack on them. We are thoroughly monitoring the movement of herds,” he said.