Heavy influx of elephants; more than 150 sighted in 16 places
With human-animal conflict heightening in Valparai due to the influx of a number of elephants, Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) officials have stepped up conflict mitigation efforts by deploying more forest personnel to monitor herd movement and alert people.
The officials embarked on a mapping exercise to bring in conflict mitigation mechanisms in Valparai town and surrounding areas, said Rajiv K. Srivastava, Field Director of Anamalai Tiger Reserve.
In the beginning of this week, on a single night, more than 80 elephants went on the rampage in over eight places, damaging houses and destroying commodities in Public Distribution System outlets besides causing extensive damages to a bungalow in Periyakallar region. On Wednesday night, nearly 150 elephants were sighted in 16 locations.
With the herds continuing to move in the area, Deputy Director of ATR and Pollachi District Forest Officer P. Velusamy, along with more than 130 personnel, was camping in Valparai, Mr. Srivasatava said.
Ten teams had been formed in addition to the two Rapid Response Teams in Valparai to combat conflict situations. The vehicles and teams were equipped to react quickly. In Manomboly Range of ATR, 60 persons were deployed in 13 locations while 75 were camping in 15 locations in Valparai range. An alert system developed with the help of Nature Conservation Foundation using red revolving beacon lights atop tall structures were in place at 18 places. In addition, the personnel on deployment were in Closed User Group (CUG) network on mobile phones for instant sharing of information, an official at Valparai said.
Anti-poaching watchers, anti-depredation squads and four vehicles were kept ready in Valparai, he said. Vehicles were equipped with Public Address System to alert people residing in labourers’ quarters in various estates about the animals’ movement. In addition, the staff had been asked to create “salt licks” in the forest so that the pachyderms never strayed out in search of salt. Plantation workers were being sensitised to the need to stay safe and avoid moving out early in the morning and after dusk. Forest personnel were also working in close co-ordination with the estate managers. With December to February being the breeding season, incidents of pachyderms migrating and getting into other herds in search of partners and resulting in disturbance to the herd were quite likely, another official added.
To seek help and provide alerts about movement of leopards, tigers or elephants, people can call the ATR Field Director’s office by dialling the toll free number 04259-232525, Mr.Srivasatava said. Such information could be passed on to the teams on the job on a real-time basis.