Elephants keep Kuppam villagers on the edge

What was thought to be a man-animal encounter soon to end has become a phenomenon that continues to worry the residents of a dozen villages in Kuppam Assembly constituency. The man-animal conflict entered the second month on Sunday with a herd of elephants unleashing destruction against villages.

A 41-member herd of elephants sighted in Gudupalle mandal on November 21 later split into three groups, and went on a spree of destroying standing crops. Among those, a 21-member herd trampled crops in Gudupalle and Kuppam mandals from Saturday midnight till Sunday morning and at present, the herd is at the Maharaja Kadai forests in Tamil Nadu, a kilometre from Kuppam border.

As the elephant attack continues unabated, scores of villages are cut off from cities and they seem lifeless at nights with roads turning desolate.

Movement of two-wheelers and auto-rickshaws, a main mode of transport for villagers, has come to a standstill. Farmers have bid farewell to night vigils nearly a month ago. Moreover, between 5 p.m. to 8 a.m., an eerie silence engulfs the villages on forest fringes. Taking advantage of the situation, some miscreants have taken to looting standing crops and the forest guards feel helpless as they are poorly-equipped and undertrained.

A senior forest official in Chittoor told The Hindu that “a day is not far away when the elephants’ raids would explode into a serious crisis”. Denying allegations that the Forest Department has turned cold shoulder to the problem, he said that they were trying to find out the reason for the elephants not leaving the belt even after a month. “We are studying various aspects and are looking into similar incidents in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and northern States. Just looking for a temporary solution will not help.It’s a major wildlife issue and we should deal with it carefully,” he said.

  • Scores of villages cut off from cities as roads turn desolate after dark

  • With ryots staying indoors fearing the animals, miscreants take to looting standing crops