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Monday, March 11, 2019

pachyderm Vadakkanad Komban caught !!

Kerala is a mystic land ! ~ now ruled by Commies – there are so many ancient temples dating back to tens of centuries and more ..  beautiful, ancient, they are in tranquil settings ~ mostly will have majestic Elephants – the tuskers called kombans – have specific names andare  looked after passionately.

Animal – human conflict is harming both animals and humans – there are places were humans have occupied or have built structures in elephant movement corridor.  With habitats shrinking- animals are forced to raid human settlement for food. In the wild forests of Kerala, as the sun sets in for the day at Vadakkanad, the villagers develop a certain sprint in their steps, hurrying towards the safety of their homes. This is a measure taken in great concern -  to avoid any unpleasant encounters with the raiders of the night, the  elephants.Surrounded by the thick growth of teak, areca-nut palm tree and silver-oak, there is a small hamlet called Vadakkanad nestled among several small villages along the fringes of Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala. The community members  who are mostly farmers, spend their days cultivating paddy, banana, areca nut, coconut and coffee in their agricultural farms. It is this proximity of the village to the protected area and the smell of freshly growing crops and fruits that attracts wild elephants towards the village.

Wayanad was in news this week - Maoist member CP Jaleel was killed in a shootout with the Kerala police’s Thunderbolt unit at the Vythiri area in the Wayanad district. Senior police officer and Kannur Range IG Balram Kumar Upadhyaya told TNM that the encounter which began around 8:30 pm went on till late into the night.Balram said that there were about 10 armed Maoists, who were engaged in the encounter with the police officials. It all began after the Maoists arrived at a local resort in Vythiri around 7:30 pm to demand cash and other provisions, said the police officer. However, they began arguing when the resort refused to hand over money.  An employee at the resort informed the police about this following which the Thunderbolts were called in. On the arrival of the police force, the armed men began to retreat into the forests with the police following suit. Police say Maoists began to shoot at them as they retreated. “It was this provocation by the Maoists that pushed the Thunderbolts to fire back. The police firing was more of a form of defence,” said Balram Kumar, who is handling the case.

Wayanad district lies  in the north-east of Kerala with headquarters at the municipality of Kalpetta. It is set high on the Western Ghats with altitudes ranging from 700 to 2100.  The district was formed in Nov  1980 as the 12th district in Kerala by carving out areas from Kozhikode and Kannur districts.

Last year there was unrest – there was agitation   in front of the Wayanad Wildlife Warden at SulthanBathery under the banner Vadakkanadu Grama Samrakshana Samithy.   Farmers of Vadakkanad village close to the jungle in Wayanadboycotted forest officials  in protest against failure to stop recurring crop raids by elephant herds. Villagers had to form special squads in each area to maintain round the clock vigil.  Of specific reference was a tusker referred as ‘Vadakkanattu Komban’. 

The elephant, Vadakkanad Komban had been fitted with a radio collar after it trampled an Adivasi boy to death in May 2018.  According to reports, the elephant is originally from Karnataka, and had entered Kerala from the Hunasur forest area. This elephant had also previously managed to escape confinement in a special natural enclosure in Muthanga back in May 2018. It had entered some  agricultural fields and destroyed crops there. 

It could not be captured immediately as the Forest department officials required four kumki elephants in order to capture and relocate the elephant.  Now comes the news that the  Forest and Wildlife Department on this day  morning captured the wild tusker  that had been creating fear among villagers in Vadakkanad area.   The tusker was captured from ChembarathiMoola forest in Kurichiyad forest range under the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) and will be shifted to a temporary kraal set up at Muthanga.

The jumbo, aged about 26 years, has been causing panic among people in various hamlets on the forest fringes.  Though the animal had left the area after the incident, it reappeared by December-end in 2018 and started destroying crops. The jumbo, a regular crop-raider in the Sulthan Bathery and Kurichyad ranges under the sanctuary. The Chief Wildlife Warden had issued an order on May 30, 2018, to capture the elephant and translocate it to the Muthanga elephant camp, the pachyderm left the area the very next day. It was around seven months in the adjacent Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Karnataka and it reappeared in Vadakkanad area a few months back, said Warden who is supervising the operation.

The operation began at 5 a.m. with the help of three kumki elephants — Surya, Neelakandan, and Pramugha, an official is quoted as saying. The team located the animal in the Chembarathi Moola forest near Vadakkanadu, at 5 a.m. Soon after, a team of veterinary surgeons, administered it the first dose of tranquiliser dart at 6 a.m. followed by a mild dose around 6.30 a.m.  Further newspaper reports suggest that the  pachyderm has shown the symptoms of sedation and  would be shifted to the mobile ambulance of the department parked near the forest soon. The jumbo would be housed in a makeshift kraal at the Muthanga elephant camp under the sanctuary, it is stated.

With regards – S Sampathkumar
11th Mar 2019.

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