Dried up water sources forces elephants to visit villages (Srikakulam, India)


Siva G, Times of India

Date Published

As summer approaches, tribals in Srikakulam and Vizianagaram are
gearing up to deal with intruding elephants who come to hamlets in
search of water.

Half of the around 800 water bodies covering 1,000 villages under the
Integrated Tribal Develop Authority (ITDA) of Seetammapeta in
Srikaulam have dried up even before summer. Sources said Sambam,
Kuddapalli, Gaoidi, Setammapeta and Dhonubai villages are almost dry

Small lakes and village ponds are water sources in these areas for not
only human beings but also animals.

A herd of 11 pachyderms came to Srikakulam forests from Lakeri forest
in Orissa in 2007. Only four of them are now living and damaging crops
like banana and sugarcane, said S Kumar, a farmer of Setammapeta.

These elephants have started entering villages for the water and food.
Each elephant drinks 200 to 600 litres of water a day on an average.
They have caused destruction in fields at Kotturu mandal in the past
three months. They damaged maize crop in Madanapuram last Saturday. At
present, they are moving along the Vamsadhara river in the mandal.

Additional principal conservator of forests, Visakhapatnam, N Prateep
Kumar told TOI that in summers the forest department provides water to
the animals in the sanctuaries and forest areas. “Luckily, there was
no problem with the elephants last summer. In 2015, we were forced to
tranquilize one of the two male elephants in Vizianagaram district.
Apart from these, there are four female elephants settled in
Srikakulam forests,” he said.

A male elephant died after being electrocuted and the other one
panicked and wreaked havoc in the nearby villages. He was caught and
brought to Visakha Zoo.

The forest officer said his department had brought an expert from
Himachal Pradesh and provided training to the tribals on how to drive
away elephants if they come close to the villages. In this technique,
chilly powder is stuffed into gunny bags with available local
material. The smell of the chillies drives away elephants. Sufficient
quantity of the chilly powder was procured by the forest department.
Burning fire crackers and beating drums are not the correct procedure
to drive away elephants. They get disturbed and turn violent at the
sound of drums.