Frustrated over delay in capturing killer elephant, Thulappally residents threaten to protest again

The jumbo trampled a Tamil Nadu native who was sleeping on a field while running amok. Photo: Screengrab/ Manorama News

Pathanamthitta: People living on the forest fringes of Pathanamthitta, recently stirred by protest following a tragic incident in Thulappally where a wild elephant fatally trampled a man, are once again up in arms against the forest department over the delay in shooting down the animal.

According to local residents, the elephant still remains in the vicinity of the forest fringe, frequently encroaching on human settlements during the night. “Just last Sunday, the elephant returned to the same area where it claimed a life a few days earlier, only to be driven back into the forest with assistance from the forest officials. It has also ventured into human habitats at Naranathodu and Pancharamon," said Varghese A S, Thulappally ward member.

With no discernible action taken by the forest department, residents are now contemplating organising widespread protests against the perceived negligence of officials.

"They had promised to recommend a shoot-to-kill order, but it seems nothing is happening in this regard. The continued presence of the elephant roaming near the village has instilled a pervasive sense of fear in the community. People are apprehensive about their safety when venturing out after sunset," he added.

Protests erupted in the forest fringes of Pathanamthitta after a tragic incident on April 4, where a 50-year-old man named Biju Kudilil was trampled by a wild tusker that had strayed into a human habitat. The unfortunate event took place around 1:30 am when Biju ventured into his backyard in an attempt to drive away the elephant.

Following the incident, local residents organized a protest march to the Kanamala forest station, condemning the perceived indifference of the Forest Department towards preventing wildlife attacks. The protesters dispersed only after reaching an agreement for the immediate release of the first installment of compensation to the victim’s family.

Additionally, during the meeting, authorities pledged to recommend to the Chief Wildlife Warden the necessary action, including the option to shoot down the offending animal.

When asked about the status of this recommendation, the forest authorities have emphasised that there is no immediate necessity to resort to shooting or tranquilizing the animal. R Kamalahar, Chief Conservator of Forests, Southern Circle, said, "This tusker is not a regular visitor like Padayappa in Munnar. It's merely a transient elephant that has wandered into the area due to the prevailing summer conditions, and it is likely to return to its natural habitat once the temperature normalises."

While acknowledging the continued presence of the elephant in the vicinity, Kamalahar cautioned against the attempts by the local residents to attempt to drive away such wild animals by themselves. "Such attempts may lead to further complications, as witnessed in the Thulappally incident," he warned.

The forest department has taken proactive measures in response to the situation, including the deployment of a Rapid Response Team in Ranni. Additionally, officials at Kanamala Forest Station are closely monitoring the movements of the animals.

"It is imperative for the public to promptly alert the forest department upon spotting any wild animal and refrain from taking any unauthorised actions. We’ve readied a Disaster Management plan and issued emergency contact numbers for the public to inform us about their presence. Even WhatsApp groups have been started to facilitate this," emphasised the official.

The comments posted here/below/in the given space are not on behalf of Onmanorama. The person posting the comment will be in sole ownership of its responsibility. According to the central government's IT rules, obscene or offensive statement made against a person, religion, community or nation is a punishable offense, and legal action would be taken against people who indulge in such activities.