15 quills removed from Pathanamthitta youth’s body after porcupine attack

Forest officials attribute the increasing presence of porcupines to abandoned rubber plantations in the region. File Photo

Pathanamthitta: While porcupines are generally peaceful animals, when aggressive, it can be fatal! On Tuesday night, 26-year-old Vishnu Sasi, of Ranni in Pathanamthitta, had to be rushed to the hospital after he was attacked by a fully-grown porcupine in the remote Uthimoodu village. Fifteen quills were removed from his body, mainly the chest area, during surgery.

Vishnu was returning home from his shop in Kozhencherry town when he encountered a porcupine near Olivu Hill in Uthimoodu. Losing control of his two-wheeler, Vishnu hit the animal, which retaliated by shooting its quills.

“The quills pierced Vishnu's chest and other body parts,” said Sasi, Vishnu's father, while waiting outside the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of a private hospital here. The youth was in severe pain following the attack and was lying in a deserted area. Luckily, an autorickshaw came by and the driver rushed Vishnu to the hospital.

Vishnu's condition is stable and will be moved out of the ICU later in the day, said hospital authorities. Vishnu's family intends to file a complaint with the Ranni forest station, providing the quills as evidence.

Meanwhile, forest officials emphasised the severity of porcupine attacks, stating that the quills, if not treated promptly, can injure the internal organs such as the lungs and heart.

“Recently, a tiger and a leopard were killed in porcupine attacks in the forest. The autopsy report revealed the quills had penetrated the lungs of these animals,” said Jayakumar Sharma, Ranni Divisional Forest officer.

The episode, meanwhile, has caused alarm in the Ranni region, prompting residents to voice concerns. Shobha Charley, the local ward member of Uthimoodu and former president of Ranni Panchayat, expressed worries about animals, typically found deep within forests, now venturing near human habitats, posing potential threats.

“The incident has underscored the importance of addressing the human-wildlife conflict in our region to prevent such incidents in the future. The forest department should step in and come up with an action plan,” she demanded.

Forest officials attribute the increasing presence of porcupines to abandoned rubber plantations in the region. The wide belt of neglected estates along the forest fringes has become an ideal habitat for such animals due to the lack of maintenance.

“These estates, which are lying on the forest fringes, have been unattended by their owners, who are either abroad or not interested in maintaining it,” pointed out the DFO.

Taking serious note of the incident, the forest department has decided to follow up on its earlier directive to local bodies within the Ranni Forest Division, urging them to clear the undergrowth in abandoned estates. “Only two local bodies, Vadasserikara and Perunad, have initiated steps to clear the undergrowth in abandoned estates,” he said.

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