By R. Arivanantham
The herd comprising 45 elephants was chased into the Denkanikottai Reserve Forest A herd of nearly 45 wild elephants was driven back into the Denkanikottai Reserve Forest from Sanamavu Reserve Forest early on Sunday. Seven people were injured during the drive.
The herd had come out of the reserve forest and damaged crops cultivated on patta lands in the villages of Beerjepalli, Agaram, Azhiyalam and Podur Pallam adjoining the forest. A compensation of Rs. 10 lakh had been issued to the farmers but many of them were not happy. On Friday, over three hundred people from the villages staged a road block on the Hosur-Royakottai Highway demanding that the elephants be chased into the forest and more compensation.
Following the agitation, a contingent of forest employees, officials and an anti-depredation squad of over a 100 started the elephant drive from Podur Pallam at around 3 p.m. on Saturday with the help of residents. They used over 1,500 rackets (vaanams), crackers and search lights and also tom toms. The herd was chased for a distance of about 25 km into the Denkanikottai RF at 6 a.m. through Sanamavu, Sinigiripalli, Anchety Durgam, Girichettipalli.
During the drive, a few elephants began chasing the forest employees and residents. Five personnel were injured while attempting to escape. The injured were R. Maduram, Anti Poaching Watcher, Jawalagiri Range, N. Ramachandran, Anti Poaching Watcher, Anchetti Range, R. Gunasekaran, Forest Guard, Royakottai Range, G. Raman, Forester, Royakottai Range, V. Sigamani, Forest Watcher, Royakottai Range.
Of the five, Mr. Sigamani is suspected to have sustained fractures and was referred to the Government Dharmapuri Medical College Hospital after first aid at the Government Taluk Hospital in Hosur. Apart from this, two residents also sustained minor injuries, Mr. Ulaganathan said.
Over twenty personnel from anti-depredation squad and forest employees were posted in the vicinity of Denkanikottai Reserve Forest to prevent the animals’ return.
Sources in the department also said that further efforts would be taken to drive the animals to the Karnataka side via Jawalagiri RF on Sunday.