Forest Department Gears up to Deal with Recent Jumbo Attacks in


Nilgiris (Udhagamandalam, India) Shantha Thiagarajan, The Times of India

Date Published

After recent incidents of jumbo attacks, which resulted in the deaths
of three locals, in the past three days in Gudalur in the Nilgiris,
the forest department has deployed kumkis to capture and relocate the
suspected animals.

Four kumkis, including three from the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR)
and one from Coimbatore division of forests, were pressed into service
for in the process of capturing the suspected jumbos.

While an estate worker was trampled to death by an elephant last
Wednesday in O’Valley near Gudalur, the other two, also estate
workers, were killed by an elephant in Pandalur last Friday. Forest
officials suspect that two different elephants were involved in the
attacks as both the incidents took place in different ranges, which
fall under the Gudalur division of forests.

While residents of O’Valley claim that the jumbo had killed at least
seven people in the past three to four years, Pandalur residents say
the pachyderm, supposedly a male loner, has claimed 9 lives in the
past years.

“We have recorded at least 26 elephants including 11 tuskers in the
Cherambadi area in the Gudalur division of forests,” said a senior
forest official on condition of anonymity. He further said, “Among the
26, three are lone-tuskers wandering in O’Valley and Pandalur ranges.
We suspect these three jumbos to be behind the attack.”

The senior forest official added, “The main reason for the conflict in
Gudalur division is that despite warning by the forest department to
not venture out during night hours, people wander around at night,”

Also, it should be noted that almost all elephant attack victims were
either daily wage labourers or estate workers. “As estate colonies are
located mostly in the middle of the estates, the workers have to take
a long route passing through the estate bushes or forest area to reach
market area to buy groceries. Consuming liquor and staying outside
late in the night is also another problem with the locals which paves
way for man-animal conflict,” said the forest official.