The presence of stray wild tuskers is giving sleepless nights for nearly hundred families at the border of Vengoor forests near Kurupumppadi at Perumbavoor in the district.
Local residents had informed forest officials that an elephant had tried to attack three persons over the past few days. The tusker had strayed into various areas near the Kottapara reserve forest under the Malayattoor Forest Division to drink water.
Rajesh, a resident of Kayattuva, was attacked by the wild tusker early Saturday when he was returning home from Paniyeli along the road plying through the forest.
“It was around 6.30 a.m. I spotted the tusker at the curve on the road. I was forced to leave my motorbike there after the animal charged at me,” he said.
Recalling the horrific incident, Rajesh, who works as a driver, pointed out that it was for the first time that the tuskers were attacking the residents.
“The straying of elephants started four months ago. I had seen one tusker a few weeks back but this time it was a different experience. I was injured when I slipped and fell while trying to escape. The tusker, which charged at me, stopped near my bike and left the place after a few minutes,” he said.
Local residents complained that stray wild tuskers had damaged crops in Marottikuzhichal, Kumbalathodu and Narkalam areas. They also alleged that the authorities had not taken any steps to check the presence of stray elephants.
A student of Class VII at Mar Elias School in Kottapadi had a narrow escape and an elderly person was injured while trying to escape from the stray elephants last week.
Officials at the Forest Range office in Kodanad said that work on a three-kilometre-long electric fence starting from Paniyeli to Vellakuzhi will begin soon. “But elephants are coming out of the forests in search of water, as most water sources inside the forest get dried up in summer. The residents might also be throwing stones or other objects at the stray tuskers forcing them to attack the locals,” a senior official said.
The forest department personnel also clarified that there had been no incident earlier of elephants attacking the villagers. “We have to protect the people and also ensure that the elephants get enough water to quench their thirst,” they said.
Officials are now tracking the wild tuskers and trying to find another route through which the animals can reach the drinking water source.