By K. Umashanker, K. Srinivas Rao
More than 50 people were trampled by the ‘gentle jumbos’ in three decades. Principal Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) A.V. Joseph observed that the main reason for the man-animal conflict in Kuppam was the disturbance of elephant corridor between Krishnagiri and Hosur in Tamil Nadu. The man-animal conflict continues unhindered across these two far-away geographic regions as separate herds of ‘gentle giants’ trample crops and everything in their sight pushing people further on to the peripheries of their habitations.
The problem assumed alarming proportions in Kuppam Assembly constituency in Chittoor district since a couple of months with the pachyderms creating havoc all over the region, creating panic and extensive crop loss.
Forest officials reiterate that a 43-member herd of elephants, now split into two groups, are alien to Kuppam, and they are original residents of South-Western region of the peninsula.
Principal Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) A.V. Joseph observed that the main reason for the man-animal conflict in Kuppam was the disturbance of elephant corridor between Krishnagiri and Hosur in Tamil Nadu.
The seasonal migration of elephants between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu through Kuppam witnessed several gory incidents, including the death of about 50 people while as many as 26 elephants perished due to electrocution in the fields and sickness.
Divisional Forest Officer (Chittoor), T. Chakrapani told The Hindu that proposals for providing solar fencing at a cost of Rs 7.50 crore were sent and are likely to be cleared soon. At present, the solar fencing and trenches are spread over 165 km but they are poorly maintained.
Officials of Srikakulam district too could not find a permanent solution to the problem after repeated ‘raids’ by the pachyderms, for which a safe zone was sought to be created, but to no avail. As many as four elephants damaged crops in Garlapadu and Padali Panchayats of Hiramandalam on Tuesday. A few months ago, the animals killed one villager named Murali in Padali area.
Residents of over 50 villages live in constant fear of being attacked by the elephants which frequently enter human habitations in search of food and water, which is the familiar reason for them to run amuck every now and then.
Most of the elephants came from Lakheri forest of Odisha seven years ago and they did not go back as they had abundant supplies of food and foliage to feed upon.
Angry villagers killed two elephants out of six in 2010 forcing the government to suspend three employees of Forest Department for failing to protect the wild animals. Now, protecting the remaining animals has become a Herculean task for the department while keeping them at a safe distance from the human beings.
Man-animal conflict continues unhindered across these two far-away geographic regions – Kuppam in Chittoor district and Srikakulam district as wild elephants create havoc trampling crops and killing people.