Settlers in the nearby forest areas and tribals in the Maryur Wildlife Sanctury are under constant threat of wild elephants that stray into agriculture land destroying crops in large areas. With the onset of the rainy season, the attack of wild elephants increases in the absence of solar fencing and a fall in the availability of food in the deep forest.

Maryur grama panchayat president N. Arogyam said that though there was an increase in the cases of wild elephants intruding in the settlement areas during the monsoon season, there are complaints of crop destruction throughout the year especially from farmers of Karimutty and Indira Nagar Adivasi colony.

In Indira Nagar colony, about 100 landless families were resettled in 2000 giving land and houses by the government. The crops destroyed by the herds of elephants are mainly plantain and tender areca nut and coconuts, he said and added that the Forest Department had promised solar fencing in the cultivated areas.

The crop destruction in Thayannan and Vellakallukudi settlements of Muthuvans inside the forest was continuing for a long time, he said and added the DFO had been informed of the crop destruction and was waiting for an action to protect the cultivation.The large scale destruction was reported in Karimutty and Puravayal areas this year, he said.

About 10 acres of crop destruction were also reported in Pongampilly area in the nearby Kanthallur grama panchayat this week.

Marayur Range Officer Ajas told The Hindu on Thursday that since the settled areas are not new, there is a rare chance of affecting the wild-corridor. “For the past two years there has been an increase in the number of elephants. The decline in water sources in the deep forest is a reason for wild elephants intruding into the settled areas,” he said.

According to him, wild elephants are attracted by the sugarcane cultivation and mostly reach the areas during the season of extraction of jaggery from sugarcane. “Sugarcane is an attractive item for elephants and the smell of the jaggery reaches the elephants even miles away when the sugarcane juice is boiled,” he said. About solar-fencing the large areas, he said it was not viable, adding that the wild elephants do not come to the cultivated area through a particular pass way. With the rainy season and availability of water, the elephants are likely to return to the deep forest, he said.

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