By Mohit M. Rao
Around 25 pachyderm-related crop loss applications are from the area
Damage to plantations and fields were reported on Thursday after wild elephants traversed through plantations in Mandekolu village, Sullia taluk, which has become an ‘epicentre’ of man-elephant conflict in the district.
Forest officials said Mandekolu – which is incidentally the birthplace of Union Railways Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda – has seen increased man-animal conflict over the years due to its position in the path of a “busy” elephant corridor.
“This year alone, we have received around 25 applications of crop damage compensation due to wild elephants from the area around Mandekolu,” said Sullia Range Forest Officer Subbaiah Naik.
This forms the bulk of the 32 applications received from his range, he said.
He said the destruction of the plantations over the past year have seen the involvement of the same group of six elephants. “Because the herd has a calf, they cannot venture far for food and water. They tend to go around in the narrow corridor through Mandekolu. Moreover, this year has seen copious rains. Usually it is dry this season, and so they head towards interior forests for water,” said Mr. Naik.
In September, after the herd had split into three sub-groups that routinely ventured into the village, the Forest Department had formed five teams to chase the tuskers into the forests. Unfortunately, these exercises may have ended up frustrating the herd into violence rather than moving on, said Assistant Conservator of Forests Dinesh Kumar Y.K.
“The elephants move from Talacauvery to Jerrigudde in Kerala and then to Aletti and Mandekolu forests in Sullia. Their corridor has become narrower over the years, and now they are being chased from both Kerala and Karnataka sides,” he said.
Forest officials will now track the elephants – which have been reported as going into the forests around Mandekolu – and decide on chasing the tuskers if they venture into the village again, said Mr. Kumar.