Elephants back, Palakkad officials on their toes (State of Kerala, India)


K. A. Shaji, The Hindu

Date Published

Despite official efforts to drive back four wild elephants that strayed into human habitations in the eastern regions of Palakkad in the last two months, the pachyderms continue to create panic in the suburbs of Malampuzha, Kongad, and Mannarkkad.

Though chased into interior forests, the elephants have returned to agricultural fields inviting angry response from local communities. The elephants went on the rampage at Walayar, Kanjikode, Arangottukulambu, Narakampulli, and Manthuruthi on Monday.

The Forest Department is planning to bring specially trained kumki elephants either from Coimbatore or Wayanad to drive away the wild elephants from the settlements.

Rapid action forces of the Tamil Nadu Forest Department also would cooperate in the operations in the coming days. Personnel and kumki elephants may reach the district on Wednesday.

Three elephants disrupted traffic at Kurudikkad on the national highway between Palakkad and Coimbatore for about three hours on Sunday night.

Other than bursting crackers, forest officials in the district have no mechanism to scare away elephants. The demand for setting up a camp of kumki elephants in the district is also gaining strength.

Meanwhile, the Palakkad district administration has directed the Forest Department to chase away the wild elephants within three days. Solar fencing works have been speeded up at Attappady and Mannarkkad in the face of renewed crop raids by the elephants.

Solar fencing is also required at Walayar, Malampuzha, Pangode, Irumbakachola, Kalladikode, and Palakkayam as per estimates of the department. The SMS-based system alerting the presence of wild elephants is also being strengthened across the eastern regions.

Trenches dug long back in the forest areas are being repaired to prevent wild animals from entering human settlements.

MGNREGS workers are being deployed to remove undergrowth in forest areas to make elephant monitoring easy. Saplings of bamboo, reed, and jackfruit will be planted inside the forests to ensure food for animals.