Here, people change jobs, leave their homes and village dreading wild elephants

1) P A Sunny 2) An area where the elephants caused damage to the crops cultivated by locals. Photo: Special arrangement.

Kannur: Families are moving out of a small residential area called Peedikakunnu near Anappara, bordering Karnataka forest, in the Ulikkal panchayat of Kannur district. They leave behind the farms where they had toiled for years and homes they had built with their hard-earned money.

Frequent raids by elephants in this area have made life nearly impossible for these residents. They are also putting up parcels of land for sale, but there aren't any takers.

"I have suffered a significant loss in farming due to the attack of elephants. Four families, including my brother, had moved to another place. Even if we plan to shift from here, nobody is willing to buy the land here. We have offered to sell the land for Rs 8 lakh which costs around Rs 20 lakhs. The two families are stranded here in the middle of an elephant scare and the authorities have not taken any measures to provide a safe living for us," P Thomas Antony, a native of Peedikakkunnu said.

There were a total of six families in the area earlier. Four of them have relocated due to the continuous elephant attack. At present. only two families are living here and they constantly face the fear of the elephants. The elephants, entering through a one-kilometre unfenced area, are causing huge damage to the crops they have cultivated.

They even had to change the pattern of crop cultivation dreading attacks from elephants. "Earlier we had cocoa trees here and we were forced to cut them down as it was difficult to detect elephants in the cover of the thick trees. We also had to fall the jackfruit trees to avoid the visit of elephants to eat the fruit. They have destroyed farming like rubber, coconut, papaya and cashew in the region," Thomas added.

The families alleged that the forest authorities and government were not bothered about their plight. They have been demanding that the solar fencing may be repaired.

"I am now working as a carpenter at Manikkadavu. The threat of the elephants is not new to me. I have been confronting this danger since my childhood. I managed to sell a portion of my land to relocate to another area ten years ago. Unfortunately, I could not continue farming in my land at Peedikakkunnu due to the constant elephant threat, so I had to start working as a carpenter to make a living," Said P A Sunny.

The government has allocated funds for solar fencing in the one-kilometre area at Peedikakkunnu when a farmer was killed in an elephant attack six months ago. The project has not been implemented.

"We have invited a tender for the fencing. But no one took up the work. The fund for fencing has been allocated in another project and the work will be completed within three months' time," said Thaliparambu Forest Range Officer P Ratheesan said.

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