In a huge loss to the village of Irulam and the rest of Kerala, Wayanadâ€™s famous wild tusker Maniyan passed away on Saturday. The 36-year-old was attacked by a herd of wild elephants and found lifeless near the Kurichedu forest close to Batheri. Maniyan was no ordinary wild elephant. He was an extremely friendly tusker and even went on to form a tight bond with the villagers of Irulam, in Wayanad. Maniyan lived in the forests near Irulam and stayed close to people, seldom moving to the dense forests.
Irulamâ€™s villagers have shared a bond with Maniyan for over 5 years now and used to regularly feed him. According to reports, the tusker would immediately respond to calls from Irulamâ€™s villagers and approach them to eat the food they offer him.
Over the years, the people of Irulam have not just co-existed with the tusker but also come to his aid by alerting forest department officials when he was injured twice.
In November 2018, a social media campaign was doing the rounds to save Maniyan, calling on the forest department officials to trim his overgrown tusks as they were hindering free movement and preventing him from feeding well. He was later put under observation and found to be in good health. Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary Warden NT Sajan had also confirmed then that Maniyan was feeding on his own despite the elongated tusks.
The Wildlife department chose not to interfere and trim Maniyanâ€™s tusk and human intervention on wild animals were avoided as much as possible. Activities like trimming of tusks were only done on captive elephants. It was not done in the wild as that would disrupt the natural selection process. However, the forest department officials had received a lot of calls asking them to help Maniyan, following which they observed the tusker to assess its health condition.
Doctors from the forest department had in 2017, tranquillised the tusker to remove a snare trap that had stuck to its leg. This was done as the trap was caused by human activities and had to be removed.
The camaraderie shared by Maniyan with the people of Irulam was indeed unique. He was even known to not raid or destroy the crops of Irulamâ€™s people or disrupt the village in anyway.