An elephant trampled a farmer to death in his own farm on the borders of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, late on Tuesday night.
Gangappa (76), son of Bandappa, died at Urla Obanapalle village in Kuppam mandal of Chittoor district when he was in his farm, just 200 metres away from his home. The marginal farmer was proceeding to his ‘ragi’ crop grown in 30 cents of his farmland, when he saw a mammoth shadow approaching, which shoved him before he could figure it out. Forest officials rushed to the spot to find Gangappa lying in a pool of blood and announced Rs.2.5 lakh as ex gratia to the bereaved family. What has triggered panic among the scores of forest-fringe villages and habitations is the fact that 15 elephants are on the move along the Karnataka border. Private elephant trackers engaged to monitor the movement of the herd were taken aback to see the massive herd moving from Mallammacheruvu towards the west (Karnataka border).
“Apart from bursting crackers, we have deployed two male ‘Kumkis’ (trained elephants) to drive the strayed wild tuskers deep into the forest,” Damodar Reddy, the Chittoor West Divisional Forest Officer (in-charge) told The Hindu over telephone from Naniyala elephant camp, located deep in the Koundinya wildlife sanctuary.
A team of officials led by Conservator of Forest (Anantapur circle) Mohammad Ibrahim reached the spot to monitor the operations. The department had laid solar fencing along the contours of the forest for a length of 245-km the Kuppam-Palamaner boundary and the recent incidents of intrusion have kicked off a debate over the need to extend it further to plug gaps.