December 21, 2020
Udhagamandalam: In the news the whole of last week,Shankar,a l/wild elephant,aged about 50 continues to dominate discussions in various parts of the Nilgiris and elsewhere, particularly among conservationists and wildlife activists.
The pachyderm had allegedly killed a man and his son near Gudalur about eight days ago ,leading to considerable distress among the local people and causing a great deal of concern to the authorities concerned.
Targeted by a forest team with tranquilizer guns, the tusker,is now out of sight and the search area has widened.
While the incident per se has led to widespread concern and fear, as it had come at a time when man-wild animal conflict was on the rise,a
view gathering ground is that it should be used to draw a bigger picture, which would help address various aspects of the issue.
Speaking to The Covai Post,Landscape specialist Mr.N.Mohanraj said that efforts should be made to enhance awareness about the behaviour
of wild animals especially elephants among the people particularly those residing near forests.
Adverting to drastic changes in behaviour among elephants brought about by the ‘masth’ season, he said that it may last up to three months. It was a time for people residing near forests to be extremely wary.
Pointing out that, caution had been thrown to the winds, when exploiting the bio-diversity rich rain forests of Gudalur and its surroundings, for non-forestry purposes,he said that the consequences are being reaped now.
Whereas the Jenmam lands issues had been dealt with sensibly in Kerala,it had been mishandled in Tamil Nadu.This has triggered a variety of problems in the area.”At least now the remaining forests should be secured to prevent unfortunate incidents”,Mr.Mohanraj said.
He added that those who have been occupying large extents of lands in Gudalur and its surroundings,should help the government, improve the health of the forests.If the forests improved, not only Tamil Nadu but also the entire South India will benefit.
When asked,how long the people have to live in a state of fear,in those places,Mr.Mohanraj said that,by nature elephants are not hostile.They attacked only when they are scared.The government also should change its approach to finding a permanent solution to the
escalating man-animal conflict.Digging trenches is not the answer, particularly in high rainfall areas. The elephant is a highly intelligent animal. This attribute should be respected by those trying to solve a complicated problem.