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Wayanad becomes a hot spot of human-wildlife conflict

People staging a protest against the alleged official apathy towards protecting the life and property of people from wildlife attack by blocking the Mananthavady-Mysore inter-State highway at Gandhi Junction at Mananthavady in Wayanad on Saturday.

Wayanad has become a human-wildlife conflict hotspot in the State, distressing settler farmers and stoking unrest.

The death of Aji, 45, of Panachi at Chaligaddha under the Begur Forest range in the North Wayanad Forest Division in an elephant attack on Saturday morning, was the latest incident.

While returning home after meeting some workers, a radio-collared elephant trampled Aji to death.

K.S. Deepa, Chief Wildlife Warden, North Zone, told the media that the Karnataka Forest department had captured and released the elephant after fixing a radio collar on the animal.

Forest officials suspect that network latency reportedly caused the Karnataka authorities to transmit the elephant’s location belatedly to their counterparts in Kerala.

They said real-time tracking of radio-collared wild animals was rarely fool-proof, given the technical snags that could crop up at any time.

Two months ago, a dairy farmer at Koodallur under the South Wayanad Forest Division was killed in a tiger attack while he was reaping fodder for his livestock. Wildlife managers have set up two cages to capture an elusive tiger which reportedly killed two domestic animals in the Pulpally area.

A sloth bear had triggered panic among residents for many days around a fortnight ago.

Thanneer Komban, a radio-collared wild elephant, was captured from Mananthavady in Wayanad a week ago.

A wild squirrel was captured from the Irulam area under the South Wayanad Forest Division a few days ago after it attacked 10 persons.

Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi, who represents the Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency, said that the spate of wildlife attacks, especially elephant attacks, had caused tremendous damage to the life and livelihoods of people in the district. People have paid a huge price owing to the rising instances of human-animal conflict, he added.

“We have repeatedly demanded intervention by the authorities to mitigate such attacks, particularly to protect our farmers. However, the lack of a comprehensive action plan to tackle the issue has only aggravated the conflict,” Mr. Gandhi said.

The governments should take decisive steps and put in place a response mechanism that could protect both the public and wildlife, the MP added.

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