Musth to blame for aggression by tusker Padayappa, say experts

February 28, 2024 11:34 pm | Updated February 29, 2024 08:44 pm IST - IDUKKI

A view of the musth fluid streaming down the cheeks of Padayappa  at Nayamakkad, near Munnar, on Monday.

A view of the musth fluid streaming down the cheeks of Padayappa at Nayamakkad, near Munnar, on Monday. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

As Munnar remains on the edge with the wild tusker, locally called Padayappa, continuing to wreak havoc, experts have warned that the elephant might continue the exhibition of aggression for a few more weeks since it is in musth.

Experts and forest officials have warned people not to approach the animal. In a recent incident, on Wednesday, the tusker destroyed a roadside tea shop owned by a plantation worker Murukeshan at Kadukumudi, near Thalayar, on the Munnar-Marayoor interstate route.

The tusker had blocked a cement-laden lorry on the Munnar-Udumalpet interstate road at Neymakkad on Monday around 8.30 a.m. It had obstructed the heavy-duty vehicle and attempted to push it away using its trunk. On Monday evening, the tusker again moved onto the main road in Neymakkad and damaged a parked car and a two-wheeler. No one were hurt during the incident.

Vimal Raj, a wildlife photographer who has been tracking the movements of tusker Padayappa, noted that the animal’s behaviour on Monday was very aggressive. “Normally, Padayappa did not mind people or vehicles on the road or roadside and moved without causing any damage. However, after the onset of the musth period, the tusker attacked a vehicle on Monday, said Mr. Vimalraj.

Retired forest veterinary officer Sunil Kumar explained that the tusker is currently in musth period, which may be responsible for its aggressive attitude. “The onset of musth can be seen from swelling of the engorgement of the temporal glands and the secretion of fluid (musth fluid), which streams down the cheeks of the animal. Recent images show heavy streams down the cheeks of tusker Padayappa. During the musth period, the animal usually exhibits an aggressive behaviour and it can last nearly two to three months,” said Dr. Sunilkumar.

A senior Forest department official warned against approaching the tusker during the musth period.

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