“Herd of elephants have been camping in the coffee estates. We can't even chase the elephants as none of the labourers are coming forward fearing attack.
The paddy fields have been damaged fully. We are tired of jumbo menace,” said farmers in Bettageri in Banakal hobli. Many elephants have been sighted in the villages in the last few years.
These elephants will be seen frequently crossing roads or standing on roadsides and sometimes in the middle of the coffee estates. The elephants have been camping at Sabbenahalli and Bharathibail last year. This year, they have been camping on the foothills of Western Ghats at Guthi, Kotrakere and Haragal and have destroyed coffee, arecanut, banana, paddy and cardamom crops. The farmers in the hoblis are in distress. Last year, the forest department had chased the elephants back to forest with the help of two tamed elephants at Gonibeedu and Banakal hoblis.
In the meantime, the area under paddy cultivation is dwindling in the taluk over the last few years. Paddy fields have been left fallow. The reason for dwindling in area under paddy cultivation is elephant menace. “We were rearing coffee plants as our kids for the last 15 years and now, the pants have been damaged,” said a farmer with tears in his eyes.
Grower Hiriyanna said “after losing the plants last year, I replanted this year. Again this year, elephants have damaged the newly planted coffee plants. I had submitted applications seeking compensation last year for the loss of crops. I have not received the compensation so far. The forest department officials recently said that the funds have been released and has asked us to submit applications this year.”
The elephant menace has created fear in the minds of the people. None are ready to move freely even during day time. The officials should relocate the elephants, said the villagers.