July 22, 2019
The villages bordering Gudalur town and Mudumalai Tiger Reserve – Thorapalli, Kunil, Puthurvayal and Allurvayal among others – face severe drought in summer. Water and food reserves shrivel in the forest. Owing to lack of green foliage, wild elephants stray into towns and villages and raid farmlands. This has been creating havoc over the years..
Towards the end of summer, the jackfruit season starts what Ch again is a major attraction for elephants which results in the woes of farmers and people continuing. At Thorapalli bazaar in Gudalur, wild elephants come even during the day and often attack residents.
On June 7, a milk van was attacked and toppled by a wild elephant. Angered by this, local residents staged a protest on the Gudalur-Karnataka national highway for two hours. They demanded that the forest department take necessary steps to prevent elephants from entering human habitations.
Following this a group discussion was held between Rural Development Officer (RDO) Rajkumar, Income Tax officers, forest officers and general public. The officers assured the public that necessary steps would be taken to prevent further incidents.
For this, two kumki elephants, Jambu and Wasim, were brought from Mudumalai Tiger Reserve’s Theppakadu camp to Thorapalli very recently. If wild elephants come, the kumkis will help forest officers to drive them away.
Forest officers have begun vigil with the help of these kumki elephants in Thorapalli.
A forest department official said, “We have brought Jambu and Wasim kumki elephants to prevent the entry of wild elephants into Thorapalli. They will help to drive them away. Also we plan to dig trenches around the forest edges and put up solar powered electric fencing around them. Until then kumki elephants will be stationed here.”