COIMBATORE: No human deaths due to elephants were reported in Valparai in the last two years (from June 1, 2021), thanks to the efforts of Anamalai Tiger Reserve staff and NGO Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF). The fieldwork done by the staff, including Anti Poaching Watchers and Anti Depredation Squad, to detect elephant presence, and drive them back when they come close to residential areas has prevented man-animal conflict. The no-cracker policy of forest staff to chase them away has ensured that the elephants are not disturbed.
The NCF has been providing information about elephant movement to people through SMS, voice calls and alert lights for over a decade. Information about elephants is also broadcast on local TV channels.
Senior programme manager of NCF Valparai Ganesh Raghunathan said, “An average of 2,500 SMS and voice calls are sent every day warning people about elephant movement.
A blinking red light indicates the presence of elephants and helps people, especially motorists, who may not have subscribed to receive alerts over phone. The 36th mobile-operated elephant light was installed at Sirukundra recently. Interactions and street plays with estate workers highlighting safety measures are held both in Tamil and Hindi.”
Currently, a few elephants are using Valparai landscape and their numbers will gradually increase from July end. About 80 to 100 elephants use the 220-sqkm Valparai plateau in peak period of November to February.
Sources from the department said they have been ensuring that the elephants are not disturbed. “We used to drive back animals by making loud noise and using vehicle headlights earlier,” an official said. The number of properties damaged by elephants has not increased this year. Every year, an average of five people lost their lives to elephants between 1994 and 2002. Now, the average has dropped to about one or two people a year, sources said.