Farmers of three grama panchayats in the Walayar-Malampuzha forest area continue to face ‘attacks' by wild elephants on their farms and settlements. A herd of six to eight elephants destroyed crops in the farms in the last two days.
The Tamil Nadu Forest Department had last week brought four ‘kunki' (trained) elephants from the Parambikulam Top Slip camp to drive away the wild elephants into the forests. Officials claimed that ‘Operation drive out' was successful in driving away the elephants that had created havoc in farms and human settlements of Pudussery, Marutharode and Malampuzha grama panchayats.
Palakkad Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) P.S. Mani claimed that the ‘kunki' elephants had driven out a wild elephant that had destroyed crops in Venoli, up to 12 km into the forests.
The Forest Department and the district administration now appear reluctant to bring back the kunki elephants mainly due to the high cost involved in the operation.
Experts, however, feel that the steps proposed by the authorities to solve this ‘man-animal conflict' are only temporary. A detailed study should be conducted to go to the root of the problem. At least a quick assessment should be done of the eco-system of the area and the habitat around it.
Dr. Easa, a member of the Task Force on Elephant Project under the Ministry of Environment and Forest said that an integrated approach was required on the man-animal conflict occurring in the Walayar and Malampuzha forests. The steps now taken now are only temporary and may not be effective in solving the problem, he said.
Over 1,800 families in the three panchayats close to the Walayar-Malampuzha forest now continue to live in constant fear of attack from wild elephants.