COIMBATORE: A seven-year-old tribal girl was killed in an elephant attack at Navamalai near Pollachi on Friday night. The animal had managed to grab rice bags from the girl’s house (located close to the forest boundary) and was eating it when the girl and her mother walked into the house. It, reportedly startled by a torch light they were carrying, made a run for it and is said to have trampled the girl on the way out.
According to forest sources, M Ranjani (7), mother Chithra and a couple of neighbours had been to Aliyar to purchase grocery items. Around 7.30 pm on Friday night, they walked home from the bus stop with a torch being the only source of light. These people were among the four families living on patta lands near the Navamalai forest boundary. On returning to the house, Ranjani and Chithra had failed to notice the jumbo in time.
The elephant by then had already damaged the hut in the process of searching for food. It had located the rice bags and was eating from it when the mother-daughter duo walked in. However, it was the light from the torch that startled the jumbo and had it running towards them with a trumpeting sound, said Pollachi Forest Range Officer A Kasilingam. While the woman managed to get away, the elephant got hold of Ranjani with its trunk and threw her away. It then fled into the forest. Neighbours rushed Ranajani to the government Kottur hospital but she was declared dead on arrival.
While herds of elephants have been known to move from the forest to the nearby water source in search of food and water, incidents of attack have been very rare at Navamalai. Kasilingam said that the department will engage more anti-poaching watchers near Navamalai to prevent wild elephants from entering tribal settlements.
An initial compensation of Rs 50,000 has been handed over to the girl’s father -- Raju alias Murugan, an anti-poaching watcher working in the Pollachi forest range of Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR).