MALAPPURAM: A herd of wild elephants giving sleepless nights to around 100 families living in forest fringes of Parayanmedu near Karuvarakundu in Nilambur has forced forest authorities to convene a meeting of farmers to formulate a plan to resolve the situation.
Around 20 elephants, which strayed into human habitat in the region three days ago, are still roaming the border areas creating panic among villagers.
“The meeting will be convened within two days and we will consider the suggestions put forward by the villagers,” said divisional forest officer of Nilambur (South) K Saji. Around 450 acres of farmlands in the region, where rubber, areca nut, coconut, plantain, tapioca and pineapple are cultivated, have become a happy hunting grounds for wild elephants.
The elephants had attacked four houses in the area. Later, the divisional forest officer said that though the forest staff managed to drive them away on Sunday evening, there are chances that the herd might return as the pineapple and banana plantations in the area are their preferred treats.
Roughly 175 such incidents were reported in the region last year. Similar incidents were also reported from the Karulayi and Kalikavu forest ranges that come under Nilambur south division. In 2014 alone, a sum of Rs 25 lakh was distributed as compensation to the residents in various parts of Nilambur North division. Last year three persons were killed by wild elephants and each family was given a compensation of Rs 7 lakh.
“Hundreds of rubber trees have already been uprooted by this wild bunch. Due to complicated procedure, many farmers here are reluctant to apply for a meagre amount that they may receive as compensation for the crops that have been destroyed,” said Kanjiramattathil Saidalavi a farmer in Parayanmedu.
Solar fencing and beehive fencing in the region were found to be ineffective as they failed to check elephant intrusion in tribal land and its adjoining areas.
The solar fencing installed by private parties in Vattamala region near Paryanmedu was recently destroyed by wild elephants.
After frequent man-animal conflict incidents in Karulayi region, the forest department, in association with Kerala Forest Research Institute, had recently installed beehive fences in Karulayi’s border area.
However, a local-level action council recently staged a protest march to panchayat office alleging that the fences are not effective to ward off wild elephants.
Earlier in July 2012, hundreds of people including tribals in different villages near Nilambur forest areas were terrorized by a herd of 18 elephants from the Silent Valley buffer zone. The herd spotted near Parayanmedu tribal colony damaged many acres of crops.