Anakkulam presents a different picture

Updated - December 16, 2022 10:00 am IST

Published - December 15, 2022 08:25 pm IST - IDUKKI 

A herd of wild elephants drinking water from the Anakkulam river.

A herd of wild elephants drinking water from the Anakkulam river. | Photo Credit: JOMON PAMPAVALLEY

While Chinnakkanal in Munnar faces serious threat from wild elephants, Anakkulam, an idyllic village some 40 km away from the hill station, presents a picture that is just the opposite. Home to herds of wild elephants, the place hardly sees any friction between people and elephants. 

Elephants, with calves in tow, regularly come from the forests under the Malayattoor Forest Division to the Anakkulam river to drink water in the evenings, says Mankulam panchayat vice president Bibin Joseph.

“At least 10 elephants go to the river daily to drink water. The number can go up to about 80 sometimes. They return to the forest after drinking water and spending time in the river. There is no trouble for the villagers,” he says.  

Former Mankulam Divisional Forest Officer and present Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary Warden G. Jayachandran says Anakkulam is a good example of human-elephant harmony. “Wild elephants have a special affinity to the Anakkulam river because of its salty flavour. It is believed that the mineral content in the water is the prime attraction for wild elephants,” he says.

“Normally, wild elephants bathe in any water. But they do not bath in the Anakkulam river and use it only as a drinking water source. They do not enter human habitations,” he adds.

“Homes, shops, and other establishments are closer to the river. But elephants do not cross the mark. Youngsters, who play volleyball at a playground close to the river every evening, stop playing when they notice the movement of jumbos. In addition, the Forest department too takes care to ensure that the wild animals do not get provoked,” says Mr. Jayachandran.

Anakkulam has emerged as one of the major tourist destinations in the district. A large number of tourists arrive here to watch wild elephants up-close without fear. Mr. Joseph says the local people ask the tourists not to create trouble for the jumbos. “If they are provoked, they will make life miserable for us. So, it is our duty to ensure that does not happen,” he says.

Except for occasionally raiding crops, there is no human-elephant conflict here, by and large, says a forest official.

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