Kerala

Tribal worker survives elephant attack by hanging on to tusk

Babu, who was injured in an elephant attack at Vaniyampuzha rubber plantation, being shifted to hospital by his friends and forest staff on Wednesday.  

Fear is stalking several areas of the Nilambur forest as wild elephants are posing a threat to the life of people living in the forest fringes. Especially vulnerable are the tribespeople living in ramshackle tents in several hamlets in the Nilambur forest.

Babu, a 35-year-old rubber tapper from Thandankallu hamlet, had a miraculous escape from an elephant attack on Wednesday morning as he hung on courageously to a tusk of the elephant. He survived the attack with serious rib injuries

The attack took place at Vaniyampuzha rubber plantation of the Plantation Corporation of Kerala around 6 a.m. on Wednesday. Babu was trapped in front of a wild tusker when he reached the plantation for tapping along with his friend Asokan.

While Asokan ran for cover, Babu could not run. As the elephant charged at him, he managed to catch hold of the tusk and hang on to it for a brief while.

The elephant walked a short distance with Babu hanging on to its tusk, before he was flung to a distance. He broke his ribs as he fell on the bushes. He was rushed to the Government Medical College Hospital, Kozhikode. “Babu would not have survived the attack had he not hung on to the tusk. His bravery saved his life,” said Nikhil E.K., a Kudumbashree animator from Iruttukuthi tribal hamlet.

Anoop D. John, beat forest officer at Vaniyampuzha forest station, who led the rescue operation, said the elephant menace had increased considerably in the recent weeks.

Dozens of families in Vaniyampuzha, Iruttukuthi, Tharippapotti, and Kumbalappara hamlets across the Chaliyar river near Munderi farm are living under constant threat of elephants.

The families of Vaniyampuzha had shifted into the forest after the 2019 floods devastated their houses. They have not been rehabilitated so far. They are still living in tarpaulin tents inside the forest. “At night, our men keep guard for our women and children,” said Sudha V.K., a tribal volunteer from Vaniyampuzha. Many of them climb and sleep on treetops to escape from elephant raids at night.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 3:37:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/tribal-worker-survives-elephant-attack-by-hanging-on-to-tusk/article33621504.ece

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