K. Raju

Operation proves to be difficult for domesticated elephants

PALANI: Even as two domesticated elephants have commenced on Monday their work to drive a herd of wild animals into interior forests, the task seems to be very tough for them to achieve. Wild animals that retreated into forests during a raid returned to the farms at night.

Availability of food and water in the farms near reserve forest area tempted these jumbos to come to this area again and again. This made the operation more difficult.

Forest officials started the operation in the afternoon and returned to villages late in the evening in the past two days. After the return of trained jumbos from forests, their wild counterparts advanced towards the farms again. One or two elephants left the herd and started grazing alone in neighbouring areas. “Handling individual elephant was more dangerous and complicated task. We need extra care and tactics to drive it away,” say forest officials.

With no expected relief in the operation, disgusted farmers at Kanakkanpatti, Kombaipatti, Thasaripatti and other villages near lower Palani hills observed a dawn-to-dusk fast in front of the bus stand at Ayakudi demanding permanent and effective remedy for wild animals menace. The action initiated by forest officials proved only to be a temporary solution.

There was no protection to our crops, which were being raided every season. We do not know how to repay the loans borrowed from banks, farmers said. Crops, damaged by the animals, were under harvest stage. The loss would be heavy if the crops were damaged at harvest stage. Worst-affected were the farmers who grew long term crops like coconut, sapota and guava and annual crops such as banana and sugarcane.

Damage and loss due to animal raid was not only with crops, even fence, bunds, farm houses, drip irrigation facility and trees grown around the farm for additional income and green cover were also devastated.

Construction of check dams near elephant corridors for drinking water and protection of forests from human disturbance, particularly on Lower Palni hills, alone would solve human-animal conflict, environmentalists opined. “First, farmers near reserve forests zones should stop raising crops that attract elephants.”

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