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A close encounter with wild elephants near Coonoor

D. Radhakrishnan
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Jumbo, calf found dead in ATR; crops damaged near Salem

JUMBO ON THE TRACK:This threesome run for their lives near the Runneymede Station near Coonoor on Thursday.
JUMBO ON THE TRACK:This threesome run for their lives near the Runneymede Station near Coonoor on Thursday.

Two wild elephants roaming close to the Coonoor-Marappalam stretch of the Metupalayam-Ooty National Highway for the past fortnight created a flutter at the Runneymede Station of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) on Thursday.

Railway sources told The Hindu that when the Mettupalayam-Ooty steam engine-hauled mountain train, with about 200 passengers including foreign tourists and students, stopped at Runneymede for filling water, the animals were spotted nearby. Unable to resist the photo opportunity and eager to get a closer look, many of them got out of the train. However, this angered the elephants which had started chasing the tourists.

Taken aback by the turn of events, the passengers and the railway staff ran helter-skelter. With the passengers bundling into the coaches the train hurriedly left the station. While they expressed the hope that the animals would be driven back to the forests before anything unfortunate happened, forest officials sought the cooperation of the people in dealing with the situation.

Special Correspondent adds from Coimbatore:

A 20-year old female elephant and its five month old female calf were found dead with injuries at Pothamadai in Anamalai Tiger Reserve on Thursday.

Following information, Field Director of ATR Rajiv K. Srivasatava and Pollachi Ranger M. Ganesh Ram rushed to the spot and conducted enquiries. Officials suspect the female elephant and its calf to have sustained injuries causing their death while resisting a male elephant in an aggressive mood for biological ventilation. This is the breeding and migratory season for elephants and elephants from other pockets search for female elephants. This is the second such incident in Pollachi in the recent past. Investigations are on.

Staff Reporter adds from Salem:

Wild elephants which strayed into the district a week ago, raided sugarcane fields and damaged crops near Achankuttapatti in Salem Forest Range on Thursday.

The herd movement caused panic among the people as they feared it would enter residential areas. However, the herd moved to Senkuttaipatti village and forest officials said that it could move in the direction of Harur forests. “If people keep away from the herd and stop diverting it, then the animals will keep moving”, said an official. A team of around 80 personnel including forest officials, policemen and revenue officials were involved in monitoring the herd movements round-the-clock.

The herd, said to be from Andhra Pradesh, had already caused extensive damaged to the crop in the district last year. Compensation for crop damage to the tune of Rs. 4 lakh were paid to farmers in district and the remaining amount of Rs. 2 lakh would be paid shortly. The current crop damage would be assessed and a report would be submitted to obtain the compensation, revenue officials said. Availability of sufficient fodder and water had made the herd to campaign in the State for the past one year, they added.


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