Man-animal conflict has claimed four more lives, this time in Coimbatore.
Four people in Coimbatore died after being attacked by a wild elephant on Friday morning. Five others were injured in the attack, and have been admitted to the Coimbatore government hospital.
Around 3.15am on Friday, a wild elephant came out of the forest in Western Ghats through Madukkarai and entered Podanur in Coimbatore in search of food.
It first broke into the house of a priest, Vijaykumar and attacked his daughter. 12-year-old Gayathri died on the spot.
The elephant then went to Vellalore and entered a forest where it killed three more people, Nagirathinam (50), Jothimani (68) and Palanisamy (70).
After this, the elephant attacked people sleeping on the road. A man named Nagaraj has sustained injuries on his leg. Four more people were injured by the elephant.
It is said that the elephant lost its way and walked around for 12 kilometers. The district administration has asked the people living in the surrounding areas not to leave their homes.
The District Collector Hariharan, District Forest Officer Ramasubramanian and veterinary doctor Manoharan are at the spot. The elephant is currently in the Vallalore area and it is said that the forest officials used a kumki - a trained elephant - to tame the wild elephant and have injected a medicine to make it drowsy, after which it will be taken to an elephant camp.
There have been constant man-animal conflicts in Coimbatore region. Conservationists say that as more and more forest land is being taken up by humans, elephants and other animals are confused about where to go in search of water, and end up in human habitations.
âThe change of land from agriculture to residential areas or other structures causes this. It keeps happening in Coimbatore, a lot of urbanisation has taken place all along borders of the forests,â said Mac Mohan, a conservationist.
âWhen people move closer to the forests, it affects the wildlife. The area between the forest and permanent structures depends on the site, but there needs to be a minimum distance of 50 metres. In corridor areas, the distance should be higher,â he added.
Writer Muhammed Ali, whose book âAzhiyum Peruyirâ details the plight of elephants in south India, explained the migratory paths of elephants to Firstpost.
âElephants have, since eons, trodden a path in search of water and food. This is known as their Migratory Path. These paths are recorded in their genes and passed on to their progeny. Whenever there is a shortage of water, they know where they can find water from this innate knowledge,â he said.
âWith their natural GPS they know where they can find food and water, and travel to places their ancestors have trodden many many years ago. But these paths are not what they were 50 years back. This confuses the elephants and so they enter the villages in search of food and water,â he explained.