Wild elephant tramples man in front of house in Wayanad, prohibitory orders issued

Aji Panachiyil
Ajeesh Panachiyil. Photo: Special arrangement

Mananthavady: A radio-collared wild elephant on the run trampled a man to death in front of a house at Padamala near Mananthavady on Saturday morning. The deceased has been identified as Panachiyil Ajeesh, 42, a native of Payyampalli.

Ajeesh ran to the compound of the house to escape after the elephant charged at him. The wild elephant smashed open the gate and trampled him, much to the horror of the local residents.

The elephant was earlier radio-collared and released by the Karnataka forest department at Moolahalla close to the Kerala border, according to the Kerala Forest Department. It was under the observation of the Forest officials in the Pathiri South forest region for the past three days.
The Ajeesh's body has been shifted to the Government Medical College Hospital, Mananthavady.

Prohibitory orders issued
With the animal roaming around menacingly, the District Collector issued prohibitory orders in the Kurukkanmoola, Kuruva Islands, Kadankolly, and Payyampally divisions of the Mananthavady municipality.

A large posse of police and forest department personnel have been deployed in the area. The local bodies also have started mike announcements warning the public against stepping out of homes.

The incident triggered vehement protests. A large number of people staged protests at Gandhi Park in Mananthavady town and also in front of the Medical College Hospital where the body of the victim has been kept.
People allege that there has been no mechanism to ensure that the elephants are not at all entering human habitats. Even the drone for monitoring the animal movement was not functioning at all, it was alleged.

'Failure in tracking'
The Kerala Forest Department has alleged that the Karnataka Forest Department did not provide the technical support to track the movement of the radio-collared animal.

“Though the password and ID of the animal were given there is a lag of five to eight hours in tracking the movement of the animal. Only if we are provided with the right equipment and it is antenna supported and tuned to the right frequency, we would be able to track the elephant movement at the right time, said an official on condition of anonymity. By the time the forest department received the signals, the animal would be moved to another spot causing human causality,” Northern Zone Chief Wildlife Warden K S Deepa said.

She added that a letter had been already sent to Karnataka forest department to provide the right equipment including antenna and receiver for the timely tracking of such rogue elephants.

According to T Siddique, Kalpetta MLA, the state government failed to ensure better coordination to ensure the technical support from the neighbouring states. The entry of Thanneer Komban in the Mananthavady town was reported by the forest department after local people alerted, he said. "If it is about the lack of technical support that issue should have been resolved then and there and it could have avoided this death,” he said.

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