Belur Makana, wild elephant responsible for Wayanad man’s death still not found

The killing of a 47-year-old man in Wayanad on Saturday led to massive protests, with hundreds of people blaming the inaction of the Forest and Revenue departments.
Belur Makana, wild elephant responsible for Wayanad man’s death still not found
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After a day of searches, the Forest Department of Kerala has not been able to locate Belur Makana, the wild elephant from Karnataka that was responsible for the death of a man in Wayanad on Saturday, February 10. Panachiyil Ajeesh, a 47-year-old tractor driver and native of Payyampally, Wayanad, was killed after the elephant chased him to the premises of a house and broke in. Ajeesh’s death led to massive protests in Mananthavady of Wayanad, with hundreds of people coming to the streets and blaming the Forest and Revenue Department for their apathy. Later in the day, the government of Kerala announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the bereaved family. 

The Forest Department embarked on a mission to capture the radio-collared Belur Makana, under the guidance of the Wildlife Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF), the Northern CCF, five Divisional Forest Officers (DFO) and veterinary doctors. Close to 100 forest staff have been part of the mission, which is assisted by four trained elephants from Muthanga. Signals from the radio collar of the elephant led the officials to believe that it is hiding in the Bavali region of the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary.

On Sunday, February 11, people stopped forest officials from leaving work, demanding that they find a solution to the problem of wildlife attacks on humans. This has been the fourth such death in Wayanad in recent months, after wild animals roamed into human-inhabited areas. After Ajeesh’s death on Saturday, a large number of people had staged a protest at the Gandhi Park in Mananthavady town and also in front of the Medical College Hospital Wayanad, where the body of the victim was kept.

According to the Kerala Forest Department, the elephant was earlier radio-collared and released by the Karnataka Forest Department at Moolahalla, which is near to Kerala border. The officials alleged that the Karnataka Forest Department did not give the technical support to track the movement of the radio collar of the animal. Even though the ID and password were passed on, there would be a lag of five to eight hours in tracking the movement.

Last week another tusker from Karnataka, Thaneer Komban, had entered the Mananthavady town and triggered panic throughout the day. However, Thaneer Komban died while it was being translocated to Bandipur. 

Read: Death of radio-collared elephant in Kerala raises suspicion of lapses in capture

Three months ago, on November 4, a 58-year-old plantation labourer Cholamala Kunjavaran was killed in an elephant attack near Meppadi in Wayanad. In December, a 36-year-old farmer named Prajeesh died in a tiger attack in Vakeri, another village in Wayanad. On January 31, 65-year-old Lakshmanan, who worked as an estate watchman, was found dead near Tholpetty. Later the Forest Department and the police confirmed that he was killed by an elephant. 

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