Forest staff trying to chase elephants into the wild (Kodaikanal, India)


The Hindu

Date Published

Forest officials have started an initiative to drive away a herd of elephants camping at Pethuparai and Puliyur villages near Vilpatti and destroying standing crops and farm houses.

The wild elephants are camping near farms at Pethuparai and move up to Puliyur and Bharathi Anna Nagar often and damage jackfruit and guava trees. The villagers tried in vain to chase the animals into the forest. Meanwhile, the elephants damaged farm houses and destroyed standing crops at villages.

Assisted by local people and led by Forest Rangers, a 100-member team intensified the operation on Wednesday to drive away the elephants into the reserve forest. But the elephant herd was moving from one place to another on the hills frequently, making the job tough for the officials. The team camped at these villages to chase the animals away.

Forest sources said these elephants came to this area from the forest in Palani. The elephants had been extending their migratory range year after year in search of food and water, causing much inconvenience to the farmers.

Migration of elephants to upper Kodaikanal hill from Palani for food and water was a regular feature.

Commencement of harvesting season of jackfruit and guava attracted these animals to these areas. Sumptuous food and abundant water tempted them to stay there for long. Moreover, food and water became scarce in Palani forest owing to poor rain and dry climate. Wild elephants usually visited these areas during the season and return after the end of it, sources said.

Kodaikanal District Forest Officer N. Murugan said Forest Department had planned to impart training to local people in studying animal behaviour and various methods to chase away wild animals into reserve forests safely.

Compensation had been given to people affected by marauding wild animals immediately, he added.

The officials advised the farmers and those residing in farm houses not to step out of their houses at night and be careful in the early morning hours. Man-animal conflict would peak during jackfruit and guava harvesting season.