Rising human-elephant conflicts in the Nilgiris claims another life


Tea estate worker’s death takes the toll this year to seven

A 55-year-old man became the seventh and latest victim of problematic human-elephant conflicts in the Nilgiris this year. A tea estate worker, he was killed when he ventured out of his home to go to a toilet nearby and crossed paths with a lone tusker.

Forest Department officials identified the deceased as V. Karuppiah, a resident of the settlements inside the Parry Agro plantations in Mango Range at Chermbadi in Pandalur.

Officials said Karuppiah failed to see the tusker that had strayed into the estate in search of food and water.

While this is the seventh death in an elephant attack this year in the Nilgiris, it is the fifth in the Gudalur forest division.

Last year, 14 persons died in animal attacks in the district, including ten in elephant attacks. Over a period of two years (2018 and 2019), five persons were killed in attacks by gaurs.

As is often the case, almost all recorded instances of humans being killed by elephants occurred near or inside tea and coffee estates, usually involving workers who were walking through the estates and surrounding forests after nightfall.

District Forest Officer, Gudalur Division, Sumesh Soman said the department continued to insist that estate workers should not get into the plantations after nightfall. “We plan to hold talks with the estates, to sensitise their workers on the need to carry torches, and to also insist that areas surrounding human settlements be illuminated better,” said Mr. Soman.

Conservationists who spoke to The Hindu said that human-animal interactions were on the rise across the Nilgiris, as the increase in animal populations was not being matched by a corresponding increase in forest cover and resources available for wildlife. As a result, animals were almost being forced to venture into human settlements and new habitats to look for food and water, leading to more problematic interactions, said a Nilgiris-based conservationist.

N. Sadiq Ali, Founder of the Wildlife and Nature Conservation Trust (WNCT), said people of Gudalur and Pandalur regions should to be more careful while venturing into landscapes populated by elephants.

Increasing the forest cover by using the lands that were being handed over to the Forest Department reduce the conflict, as these newly-afforested areas could provide fodder and space for elephants and other herbivores.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 4:20:48 AM |

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