‘We simply ignore herds in Idamalayar and they reciprocate the same way’
Idamalayar may not be a flagship forest reserve in Kerala. But the teeming wild elephant population in the Idamalayar forests is, it is stated, the result of the State's committed conservation efforts. One can spot more elephants along the banks of the Idamalayar than at Thekkady.
The 35-km Idamalayar catchment area is not a tourist destination and is therefore undisturbed. Wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers are allowed to cruise the waterbody after obtaining permission from the Forest Department. The giant teak at Kappayam is another attraction.
There is hardly any elephant-man conflict in the Idmalayar region. Contract workers harvesting reed and bamboo say they often come across elephant herds. Elephants raid camp sites inside the forest, in search of salt, only after workers leave the camps, says Krishnankutty, a labourer.
“We simply ignore the herds whenever we see them and they too reciprocate in the same manner,” he says. Tribal people living in area too have ‘no complaints against the elephant herds.'
Forest Range Officer (Idamalayar) A.J. Ramesh Kumar says he is often amazed at the ‘unusual cool' of these elephants. “During field inspections inside forest areas, our teams come across elephant herds. There has never been any conflict,” he says.
Every herd has two or three young ones, indicating a healthy presence of tuskers in the area. Tuskers are spotted with herds or as loners. Lone tuskers are known to attack humans; but there has been no such report from Idmalayar, the officer says.
Bhakara Pillai, watchman of the giant teak, who has been living in a shed in the area for the past 20 years, says elephants often come grazing near his shed. They have never shown any aggression, he says.