‘Kumkis’ to guard Munnar forest fringe (Idukki District, India)


  Giji K. Raman, The Hindu

Date Published

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In a few days, two trained (kumki) elephants will reach Munnar from the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary to chase away wild elephants that stray into human habitations. “We are waiting for the rain to subside. Within two to three days the elephants will be brought to Munnar,” Munnar Divisional Forest Officer S. Narendra Babu told The Hindu on Friday.

The decision was taken after a youth was killed by a wild elephant at Chinnakanal recently. The agitated public had blocked the main roads then, demanding steps to prevent wild elephants from entering human habitations. The deployment of kumkis was found effective in Wayanad. A problem being faced in Munnar is the terrain, which is different from that of Wayanad, Mr. Narendra Babu said.

The elephants would operate especially in Anayirankal, Santhanpara, and Chinnakanal where a largest number of elephant encroachments were recently reported. In the first phase, kumkis will chase the wild elephants to the forest. If the wild elephants return, they would be radio collared. As a last step, they would be tranquillised and transferred to the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, he said.

Anayirankal and Mullanthandu are the constantly raided areas, especially during summer. Even during monsoon, the elephants stay on at the cultivated areas, mainly for fodder.

Lured by jackfruit

The farmers have felled jackfruit trees as their fruits attract the elephants. An increase in the number of wild elephants and lack of fodder and water in the core areas are stated to be the reason for their straying into the cultivated areas near the buffer zone.