India — BANGALORE: First, it was the Nagarahole fire. Now it is the elephant invasion that is alarming the people living in areas bordering the forests.
Though the pople living on the fringes of forests in Kodagu, Mysore and Hassan districts have been facing elephant menace for more than a decade now, it is their huge number that has been making forays into the human habitation over the last few days that is causing concern to them now.
Following the recent fire incident at Rajiv Gandhi National Park, herds of wild elephants have sneaked into the populated areas creating panic among villagers. Things have come to such a pass that people venture outside their homes now either in groups or in four-wheelers or public transport.
“It is clear to most of us: stay inside and avoid venturing out. It is not safe, especially between 5 pm and 8 am as it is the time for the elephants to roam the main roads too. They are literally roaming here like stray dogs,” said K S Muthappa, a coffee planter who had a narrow escape two years ago after he was attacked by a wild tusker close to his estate near Bhadragola village near Thithimathi forest in Kodagu. “Quite often we try to assure ourselves by believing that the elephants won’t harm us if we don’t harm them. But this theory does not hold all the time, especially if there are calves or if the elephant is a rogue,” he added.
Coffee planters in parts of Virajpet taluk of Kodagu and farmers in parts of Mysore and Hassan districts spend sleepless nights as hordes of elephants make way into their estates and fields destroying plantations and crops. They claim that at least 30-40 elephants attack their crops each night and they are helpless. “These days, jumbos are not scared of humans. Earlier, they would only eat our crops. But nowadays, jumbos even come to our courtyard in search of food. In the process, they damage our houses,” said a planter VC Mani.
Civil and forest personnel have been trying to chase the elephants away back to Nagarahole, but have not been successful as yet. “A large tract of virgin forest patch has been destroyed during the recent fire incident at Nagarahole. This has severely impacted the water and fodder of wild jumbos especially with the summer setting in,” said wildlife activist K M Chinnappa.