Elephants in a trouble trench (India)


The Hindu

Date Published
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Call it an elephantine problem. As many as 13 elephants, separated from their herd after the creation of trenches in the elephant corridors in eastern Attappady, are apparently in a dilemma.
They are virtually trapped in between habited areas and the forest due to the creation of trenches. The elephants have been raiding crops in Thoova, Vattalakki, and Kulukkur villages in the Sholayur belt.
Traffic disruption
They appear on the Mannarkkad-Coimbatore main road, causing disruption to vehicular movement. Road-users, especially tourists who take the route to reach Ootty, via Mulli and Manjur, are often taken by surprise when they spot wild elephants on the road. “The elephants are trapped in the region as the manmade hurdle disrupted their path. Elephant-proof trenches were dug in the Anaikatty forest fringes on the Tamil Nadu side following a public outcry. The elephants were not herded back to the forest ahead of the digging of trenches. The animals are in a state of fear and anxiety as their seasonal pattern of movement has been disrupted,” says Naseer Usman, an ornithologist-turned farmer in Ezhuthukalpara, near Sholayur.
“The elephants had a large area to roam freely, irrespective of the State borders. It was their unchallenged habitat. Now, the unscientific trenches have caused the alienation of male elephants. They are trapped in small wild patches surrounded by human settlements in eastern Attappady,” says Palani Swamy, a forest watcher attached to the elephant squad of the Forest Department.
The situation forces them to stray into farmlands and human habitations, causing human-animal conflict. The lack of adequate fodder makes them crop-raiders. Senior forest officials said they were yet to find a way to resolve the crisis. Animal experts say chances of reuniting the animals with the herds are remote. Herds do not accept elephants after long intervals. The trenches were dug six months ago, they say.