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15 Jul 2020, Edition - 1828, Wednesday

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Mining in forest ranges major cause for elephant attacks, say greens

Vignesh Vijayakumar

It is almost a year after the `Madukkarai Maharaj’ operation that a wild tusker meandered out of forests and killed four people, including a child, in Vellalore region this morning.

Though the tusker was finally captured after much effort by the forest department, such mishaps bring to the fore the issue of poor forest management. Activities that are not eco-friendly like mining and encroachments have destroyed both forest wealth and its cover. Environmentalists and nature lovers say it is time the department stepped in and took steps to conserve forests.

The tusker captured today is said to have come out of the forest as a result of changes in the forest eco system, they say.

“Elephants are migratory animals. They walk at least 400 km a year and spend 18 hours a day eating” says Wild Wing Trust Managing Trustee Saravanan Chandrasekar.

Elephants usually come out late in the night and get back into forest before dawn. But the change in habitat has made the elephant `lose its way’. “One reason for the change in its habitat is the indiscriminate mining happening across the forest stretch ranging from Malampuzha dam to Madukarai. Besides, encroachments by educational institutions add to causing damage to its habitat.

Environment Conservation Group President R Mohamed Salim feels it is human interference in forests that has led to igniting violent traits in otherwise timid elephants. “Destroying forest cover and thereby denying the animal food and water and bursting crackers to drive them away can only turn them violent” he says.

A case in point of human interference is the large-scale mining and other development activities in and around forest areas.“The uncontrolled and illegal mining by ACC Cements along Madukkarai range is causing pollution, forcing the elephant to stray out,” he asserts.

Elephant numbers are already dwindling and such actions by man will only push things to their turning into endangered animals. The Government has to step in and regulate such development activities in the forests, Mohammed adds.

Repeated attempts to contact the ACC Cements officials went in vain.

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