Jumbos raid crops, keep Vellore village, foresters on toes all night


(Vellore, India), Times of India

Date Published

A herd of four elephants has been giving sleepless nights to the
forest department personnel and villagers in and around Bathalapalli
village in Pernambut, Vellore for the past three days.

The herd, comprising two adult females, a calf and a tusker from the
reserve forest in Andhra Pradesh, have been entering banana
plantations, mango orchards and paddy fields along the Tamil
Nadu-Andhra Pradesh border during the night hours in search of food.
The elephants have been raiding the crops and plantations spread over
20 acres in and around Bathalapalli village since Tuesday.

“The herd is coming out of the forest after sunset and destroying the
crops. On Tuesday, it chased two-wheelers passing through the V Kotta
Road. On Wednesday, the elephants entered the mango groves and banana
plantations,” said a forest official.

A team of forest department personnel led by Odugathur ranger
Muralidharan tried to chase the herd into the forest. But the
elephants chased away the forest department personnel instead.

“Forester Mohanavel and ranger Muralidharan sustained minor injuries
when they tried to escape from the herd at about 2am on Thursday,”
said a forest department staff.

Mohanavel, who sustained head injuries, was taken to the government
hospital in Pernambut. “We set on fire piles of tobacco leaves and red
chillies, which is one of the low cost elephant deterrents, to drive
away the animals. But that did not stop the animals from entering
human habitation,” the official said.

The forest department has engaged a team of officials and forest
guards to keep track of the herd. Villagers have also been advised to
stay indoors after sunset, and not to wander near the forest area or
agricultural fields.

The forest department is mulling necessary steps to compensate the
farmers whose crops have been damaged by the herd, an official said.