Conservator of Forests, Dharmapuri Circle, A.K. Ulaganathan said that herds of wild elephants that are roaming in the Reserve Forest (RF) areas close to the human habitations in the district have destroyed about 90 acres of cultivable land – including 75 acres of agricultural land and 15 acres of area under horticulture – in the last two months.
He said this in a meeting that was organised in the Collectorate here on Thursday to analyse the extent of crop damage by elephants and to work out solutions to put an end to the man animal conflict.Officials from the agriculture, horticulture, revenue and the police departments were present during the meeting that was chaired by the District Collector here on Thursday. According to the Conservator, more than 125 elephants in six herds are roaming in the Reserve Forest (RF) and nearby villages in the district.“It includes about 45 elephants in the Sanamavu RF, 20 in the Noganur RF, 25 in the Thali RF, 20 in the Jawalagiri RF, 10 elephants in the Panai RF area and seven elephants in the Ulipanda RF”, he said.He said that the herds take rest in the RF areas during the day and destroy agricultural lands close to the forest area at night.
“Crops that were mainly destroyed by elephants are ragi, paddy, banana, coconut, tomatoes and cabbage. Compensation to the tune of Rs. 10 lakh was given away to 195 farmers, whose crops were destroyed during the last week of December”, he added.
The Conservator said that recently, efforts were taken to chase away the 45 elephants back to the forest.
“A female elephant gave birth to a baby elephant, making it difficult to chase them. But we have taken efforts to prevent them from entering human habitations”, he said.
“Important among them is to create more percolation ponds in the forest area and to plant three or four tiers of plantations so that elephants can feed in their natural habitat”, he said.He said that the department has suggested rejuvenating the existing ponds and tanks and to provide salt licks .
“There is a need to create more awareness among the people living in the fringe village nears the forest areas on elephants”, he added.The Collector said that the meeting was organised to plan initiatives that must be taken to avert damage to life and property due to the presence of elephants .He made an appeal to the people to stay away from the elephants and to extend their support to the related activities of the forest department.