Wild jumbo Padayappa looting vegetable gardens on his annual jaunt across Munnar

Padayappa at a village near Marayur. Photo: Special arrangement

Idukki: The ‘people-friendly’ jumbo Padayappa has been looting the vegetable gardens of villagers during his 'annual tour' to the tea estates in the Thalayar region situated between Munnar and Marayur.

The wild tusker that left Munnar in June has traversed through Mattupetti, Gundumalai, Kapi Store, and Thenmala, and is now on its way back to Munnar. Now, Padayappa has reached the Thalayar Estate in Maryur, say forest officials of the Munnar Range.

“The jumbo is presently at the Kadukumudi tea estate of Woodbriar Group in Thalayar,” said the villagers. According to them, the tusker destroyed a portion of a house in Pampanmalai and took a sack of rice.

“Last week Padayappa reached Lakkam New Division tea estate and ate the fodder stacked up for cattle in the lane houses. It is staying near the lane houses of the tea estate workers in Thalayar. The workers are in a panic, they fear the jumbo might enter the lanes at night in search of food. He may pull down a portion of the kitchen or store room,” the residents fear.

Meanwhile, Munnar Range Officer, Arun Maharaj said the jumbo has not attacked humans till now. He says, every year, Padayappa embarks on a journey by swimming across the reservoir of Mattupetti Dam. “The wild jumbo is a part of day-to-day life in Munnar and regions up Thenmala for the past decade and it has grown up in the tea estates in the Munnar region feeding on jack fruits and other vegetables grown in the area,” Maharaj said.

The Forest officials said they are monitoring the movements of Padayappa and believe it will be back in Munnar by September. “At present, if the animal goes near lane houses, we chase it away. Though the farmers and residents affected by the raids demand a permanent solution to the ‘Padayappa menace’ we do not have any plans up our sleeves,” said the Forest officials.

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