Farmer couple in distress as wild elephants destroy entire paddy yield in South Kodagu

As the paddy grown in their farmland was reaching the harvest stage, the couple hired additional labour and spent sleepless nights guarding the paddy field from the wild elephants.
Destroyed paddy yield. (Photo | EPS)
Destroyed paddy yield. (Photo | EPS)

MADIKERI: A farmer and his wife spent sleepless nights guarding their paddy farmland from wild elephants for over a week at Kurchi Village in South Kodagu. Yet, they failed to stop the wild elephants from feasting on the entire paddy yield hoarded in a total of 37 gunny bags.

Ravi Chengappa and Beena Chengappa are farmers who are BPL card holders. The couple depend on farming and own about five acres of land, in which three acres are cultivated with paddy and the rest is developed into arecanut and coffee estate. Ravi, Beena and Ravi’s mother tirelessly work in the field and estates. However, their entire year’s earning has now been feasted by a herd of over 15 elephants.

As the paddy grown in their farmland was reaching the harvest stage, the couple hired additional labour and spent sleepless nights guarding the paddy field from the wild elephants – especially during night.

Kurchi village has been a victim to increased movement of wild elephants for nearly six years and many farmers in the area have abandoned agriculture due to the elephant menace. “Earlier, there were just two to three wild elephants in the vicinity. However, over 50 elephants seem to have migrated to the district from Kerala state and they were unable to return to the Kerala forest as fences and trenches have been dug in the estates of Wayanad. Unable to return to their native forest, these elephants now take shelter in the estates of Kurchi and Biruga villages,” explained Ajjamada Chengappa, a farmer leader and a resident of Kurchi village.

While a majority of the residents of the conflict-affected villages have given up agriculture, Ravi and Beena continue to involve themselves in paddy cultivation and they were guarding the farmland during night hours for over 10 days – before the harvesting. However, after harvesting the crops this week, the harvested paddy yield was dried and filled into 37 gunny bags. “The yield in their farmland was very little due to the bad weather conditions. Nevertheless, they harvested the crops that survived the bad weather and had hoarded them in the drying yard near the farmland. The bagged paddy yield was to be shifted to the storage center in Srimangala the next day after the completion of the hoarding process,” explained Chengappa. Since the crops had been harvested, the couple did not guard the hoarded yield assuming no threat from wild elephants.

Unfortunately, the harvested paddy was feasted upon by the wild elephant herd even as the couple was shocked to find their drying yard spewing of destroyed paddy yield mixed with the excreta of wild elephants. Further, the herd has damaged the arecanut plantation. The sleepless nights have now turned into a nightmare for the farmer couple, who look forward to being compensated for the crop loss. The spot was visited by the concerned forest department officials, who have assured to release compensation for the loss of the paddy yield. Several farmers in the village have been victims to the wild elephant menace and they shared their helplessness and questioned, “Who must we approach and who is to be blamed?”

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The New Indian Express