Rajakumari (Idukki): Incursion of wildlife into areas of human habitation has resulted in frequent deaths of local people in Kerala recently. The latest incident in this regard took place in Idukki district on Wednesday when Sakthivel (51), a temporary watcher of the Forest Department, was trampled by an elephant herd.
Sakthivel, belonging to the tribal community residing at Kozhipanakudy, had earlier saved numerous people from wild elephants.
On being informed that a herd of six she-elephants and two calves were noticed near Panniyar Estate early on Wednesday, Sakthivel rushed to the spot to track the movement of the wild animals. His intention was to warn the Forest Department and local residents of the presence of the elephants.
However, local people launched a search for Sakthivel when they could not contact him for a long time and soon found his body. Sakthivel had apparently failed to see the elephants in the dense fog and the animals had trampled him to death.
Sakthivel’s body was shifted to Taluk Hospital, Adimali by Forest Department officials. However, local people protested against the action of the Forest officials in removing the body before the police arrived.
Later, residents of the area blocked the Kochi-Dhanushkodi national highway demanding effective measures to end the menace of wild elephants. The blockade was led by Members of the Legislative Assembly, M M Mani and A Raja.
Forest Minister A K Saseendran said that Sakthivel’s family was eligible for a compensation of Rs 15 lakh. “Of this amount, Rs five lakh will be paid on Thursday,” he said.
Sakthivel is survived by wife Santhi, children Radhika, Vanitha and Priya and sons-in-law Kumar and Raja.