By K. Umashanker
A 15-member elephant herd emerged from the Pachhur hillocks, bordering Kuppam mandal and Tamil Nadu in the wee hours of Wednesday, and went on rampage along the fields in half a dozen villages, covering nearly 10 kilometers.
The Forest Range Officer (Kuppam), M. Reddappa, confirmed the menacing movements of the elephants. "Loss of crops is reported in a big way. The entire Kuppam mandal is panic stricken. We have to first prevent the tuskers from entering human habitations," the official said. He went round the affected villages and arranged tom-tom seeking the farmers to avoid night vigils and stay indoors, and not to tease the animals. With this development, the Deepavali celebration was clouded in the stretch of villages.
The villagers said the elephants entered Srigarapuram village around 2.00 am and passed through fields close to human habitations covering Valur, Kosur, Krishnapuram and Jeedur villages. At Jeedur, a group of five elephants started chasing the villagers. Some panic stricken villagers ran towards the nearby hillocks.
By 3.00 pm, the elephant herd was spotted at the foot of a hillock near Jeedur village in Kuppam mandal limits.
The FRO said that the trackers had noticed that the elephants were slowly climbing the hillocks to reach the other side of the forest in Tamilnadu. On request from the forest officials, armed police were dispatched to the vulnerable villages to prevent people from teasing the animals and to check the advance of elephants into human habitations. "Their migration time seems to have started and the movement is expected to last for a month," Mr Reddappa said.