NGO Our Own Nature filed the complaint based on TNM’s story, ‘How one decision by the Kerala govt sparked the man-elephant conflict in Munnar’.

Restore elephant habitat near Anayirankal in Munnar NGO files complaint with officials
news TNM Impact Friday, October 26, 2018 - 16:46

After Anayirankal, a word that hints at tusker menace in the area, made headlines of man-animal conflict in Idukki district, Our Own Nature, a Wayanad-based NGO, has filed a complaint with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) and State Chief Wildlife Warden, to restore the elephant habitat and elephant corridor in and around Anayirankal lake near Munnar.

The NGO secretary, Dharmaraj CS, has filed a complaint with the officials, seeking immediate restoration of elephant habitat in Anayirankal. The petitioner also filed a complaint with the director of Project Elephant and Idukki district collector K Jeevan Babu.

“The recent report in The News Minute, dated October 9, 2018, cites 28 human deaths in the Chinnakanal and Munnar in Idukki district in the last eight years due to human-elephant conflict. This is a staggeringly high number for the duration. The report on the secluded elephant population, raiding the 301 colonies set up in the year 2002-03, is an example of how an elephant landscape could be turned into a human-elephant conflict zone by placing poor and ignorant tribal communities in a dangerous environment. More than a decade after the relocation of 301 families, with just 13 families living in the elephant corridor, it is proven beyond doubt how the area is unsuitable for any human inhabitation and livelihood. The entire relocation has also proven fatal to the gene pool exchange as well as availability and access to fodder and water source for the wide-ranging elephants. This is also an example of the extremely poor vision of politicians, their inability to understand the ground reality and how political decisions, which ignore scientific reports and recommendations, could prove wrong in the long run,” read the petition by the NGO.

Speaking to TNM, Dharmaraj said, “In the Supreme Court order of August 9, 2018, in A Rangarajan Vs Ministry of Environment and Forest and ORS, it was clearly directed to remove illegal constructions and other activities that were obstructing the path of elephant corridor and to ensure there is free movement of elephant in the landscape. The government can easily implement the Supreme Court order in the Anayirankal and Chinnakanal areas and prevent the tusker menace in these areas.”

The petitioner wants the government to take a series of action to prevent the tusker menace related issues in the region. Some of these include:

  1. Crack down on all resorts and illegal constructions in Anayirangal and between Chinnar and Periyar Tiger Reserve elephant corridor with immediate effect.
  2. Shut down all the granite quarries and crusher units functioning in Chathurangappara near Anayirnkal.
  3. Cut down 500-acre eucalyptus plantation that are planted on grasslands, which falls in the above corridor and thus let grass grow on terrain to assure food security for the elephants.
  4. Remove all electrical fencing around private estates, which fall in the elephant path.
  5. Stop boating tourism through the Anayirangal lake as this agitates and blocks large elephant herds from drinking water and bathing.
  6. Identify the critical elephant corridors in Kerala, to ensure all roads cutting through these corridors are closed with immediate effect.
  7. If there are roads crossing through protected areas, there should be a ban on night traffic from 6 pm to 9 am.
  8. Relocate existing families living in the Anayirangal elephant corridor on an immediate basis in order to restore free elephant movement, thus reducing conflicts in the region.

Meanwhile, the forest department decided to capture the rogue tusker named Arikompan from Chinnakkanal near Munnar. The department will capture the tusker and shift it to elephant training centres. For the last several months, the tusker has been creating panic among residents in the Anayirankal, Chinnnkkanal and Sinkukandam areas, said natives.

“Last year, we got permission from the Chief Wildlife Warden to capture the tusker from the Chinnakkanal area. If needed we will capture the tusker,” said Munnar DFO Narendra Babu.