Idukki sees rise in jumbo attacks (India)


Times of India

Date Published

People living near forest areas like Rajakumari, Munnar, Marayoor, Kanthalloor & Devikulam, are more prone to man-animal conflict
Idukki: The district has been witnessing rise in elephantattack cases.

More than 10 people had lost their lives in such attacks in Marayoor and Munnar alone for the past three years.

People living near forest areas such as Rajakumari, Munnar, Marayoor, Kanthalloor, Anayirankal, Devikulam, Poopara and Vallakkadvu are more prone to man-animal conflict.

A native of Lakkad estate division of Devikulam was killed and his wife had a narrow escape from the attack of an elephant on March 21 this year.

For the past 20 years, over 15 people died of wild elephant attack in Rajakumari and nearby areas such as Moolathara, Anayirankal, 108 colony, Sooryanelli and Adukidantan.

In Marayoor and Kanthalloor, five people were killed in the past three years in jumbo attack, including a panchayat president and his son.

According to local residents, elephants destroy crops widely and in Munnar, they roam free at the town and plunder shops. They said there were incidents of elephants charging at tourists and vendors in the area.

On Saturday, an elephant damaged an autorickshaw in Munnar and in the past ten years, there were around eight such attacks.

Last week, a husband and wife had a narrow escape when an elephant attacked the bike they were riding at Devikulam. The incident happened near Goodarvila Bungalow and they managed to escape from the scene. The bike was completely destroyed by the elephant.

On March 23, Munnar residents had blocked the highway raising the issue. Following this, forest minister K Raju announced to form a rapid response team (RRT) to prevent such attacks. This team, led by forest officials, will be given necessary vehicles and weapons by the government, the minister had promised.

Meanwhile, another protest meet before Devikulam DFO office under the aegis of a joint action council last week sought a permanent solution for the man-animal conflict. Now, local residents have formed WhatsApp groups such as ‘Kattu Kompan’ to spread information on such attacks.

“The minister had also promised that steps would be taken to transfer ‘Chillikkompan’, a tusker that had killed many in Munnar, to Thiruvananthapuram. However, it is yet to become a reality.

“The continuous attack of wild elephants has been affecting the normal life of people in the district,” said Devikulam MLA S Rajendran.

“Over 10 elephants are creating ruckus in and around Munnar and Devikulam areas. They attack people and destroy crops,” he said.

“A proposal to improve RRP with facilities such as vehicles and weapons has been submitted to the department. Another proposal from Devikulam DFO was to fix radio collar facilities on wild elephants,” said Habby C K, Munnar assistant conservator of forest.

“We hope RRT will soon be given a facelift. Drought and deforestation are cited as the main reasons for elephants intruding into such areas,” he added.