By B. Ravichandran
Ooty: The electrocution of a wild jumbo in a tribal settlement, right in the heart of the elephant corridor near Ooty, has shocked foresters and wildlife activists. The foresters have arrested a tribal in this regard. A wild jumbo, which was a tusker, was found dead on Sunday morning at the edge of a farmland at Chokkanalli tribal hamlet near Ooty. The hamlet is located in the Segur valley elephant corridor.
The foresters who rushed to the spot found metal wires around the body and burn injuries on a portion of the elephant’s trunk. Mr P. Premkumar, assistant conservator of forests, Nilgiris north division, said upon investigation, it was found that Raman (30), an Irula tribesman, had connected a high-voltage power cable to the metal fencing along his farmland on Sunday night, to thwart any attempt by wild animals trying to venture into his compound.
The wild tusker, aged about 23 years, must have come in contact with the electrified metal fence, the current passing through its body having instantly killed it. “We have arrested Raman for this illegal activity which eventually killed the jumbo. We have warned the tribesmen living in and around the Chokkanalli hamlet not to take to extreme steps, like energising the fence with high-voltage power lines. They have also been told about the Wildlife Conservation Act, binding the area, and the punishment liable if somebody tried to defy the wildlife law,” he added.
When asked whether the arrested tribesman was in the regular habit of energising the fencing with high-voltage electricity, Mr Premkumar said he admitted that he had been doing so. “The tribesman said he used to guard the farmland at night after activating the fence and switch off the power when the animals came near the land. He would try to chase them away by creating noise, using instruments. On Saturday night, however, he had slept after connecting the power line, which proved fatal for the wild jumbo,” he added.
Dr E. Vijayaraghavan, the forest veterinary surgeon, who did the autopsy on the carcass of the jumbo, said burn injuries were found in the trunk region and a couple of other places.