Rising temperatures and a drought-like situation within the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Thattekkadu, around 40 km from Kochi, have seriously affected the life cycles of birds, reptiles and other animals in the area even as farmers are complaining of increasing incidents of animal raids on farmsteads located close to the bird sanctuary over the last two years.

A baby elephant, part of a dozen-strong herd of elephants, which fell into an open well on a homestead within the Urulanthanni section of the bird sanctuary was rescued by department of forest officials. The incident helps highlight the plight of the animals as well as their human neighbours who are being increasingly forced to adapt to a new situation.

P.R. Janaradhanan, a small-time farmer, says he has given up cultivating tapioca, banana, areca and coconuts, his mainstay, because of increasing animal raids on his farmstead from where the baby elephant was rescued on Monday.

Elephant raids are frequent. So are attacks by wild boars, he told The Hindu, admitting that he had more or less learnt to live with the new circumstances.

His counterparts in neighbouring areas within the Kuttampuzha panchayat note with alarm that animal attacks are frequent and becoming dangerous these days. Kavummel Surendran says that he had no hope of going back to cultivating tapioca and bananas any more because they attract wild boars and elephants respectively.

Meymadathil Johnson and Parappattu Murali said that people were not reporting animal attacks on their farmsteads because of several reasons, including the fact that land sales might be affected by the reports. R. Sugathan, long-time researcher and ornithologist, told The Hindu on Monday how rising temperature was affecting the life cycles of animals within the bird sanctuary area.

The rising temperature, combined with the lack of rain has upset animal life within the area, said a senior forest department official. However, he said that while the drought-like situation this year was forcing the animals into homesteads and farm lands, there was also a problem with the location of these farm lands being located on traditional elephant paths within the bird sanctuary.

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