Elephant 'Kutta Komban' kills two farmers within eight days in Tamil Nadu's Dindigul
A 46-year-old farmer was trampled to death by an elephant at Sasthripatti village in Ottanchathiram Range in Dindigul during the wee hours on Sunday.
DINDIGUL: A 46-year-old farmer was trampled to death by an elephant at Sasthripatti village in Ottanchathiram Range in Dindigul during the wee hours on Sunday. Stating that the elephant, identified as 'Kutta komban', has killed two farmers within eight days, the forest department said they have formed a Rapid Response Team (RRT) for driving away herds of elephants to prevent similar incidents.
According to sources, the deceased, identified as Soundararajan, owned a patta agricultural land in the area located at the foothills of Western Ghats and was residing alone in a makeshift shed. "He had just harvested corn maize and collected it in front of his house. On seeing the elephant that had come to eat the corn, he burst crackers in an attempt to drive away the animal. However, the elephant attacked and trampled him to death," sources added.
They further stated that a 55-year-old farmer named Dhandapani, was also trampled to death by an elephant near Srirmanputhur in Ottanchathiram block range in Dindigul forest division, earlier on March 5. "The farmer had come out of his house after his pet dog kept barking continuously, when the elephant attacked and killed him," sources said.
Following the deaths of two farmers within eight days, farmers and kin of Soundararajan staged a protest and refused to accept his body. Officials arrived at the spot and pacified them.
Speaking to TNIE, a farmer in the area claimed that they have been facing elephant intrusions for many years now and that the officials have turned a blind eye to the issue. "If someone dies following an elephant attack, the Tamil Nadu government gives Rs 5 lakh compensation to the bereaved families. But, will the department kill the elephant if we give them Rs 5 lakh?" he said, adding that so many lives have been lost due to elephant attacks and that the forest department is yet to take any preventive measures.
"A notorious wild elephant named Kutta komban has been damaging the farmers' agricultural lands located in Ottanchathiram, Palani forest areas for the past two years. It has caused the death of four persons, including an Anti-poaching watcher last year," he further stated.
Speaking to TNIE, District Forest Officer S Prabhu said a herd of elephants, excluding Kutta komban, has been halting at kaloddai, Periyakombai and other villages in Palani and Ottanchathiram forest ranges. Kutta komban, aged above 15 years, is in its 'musth' period, which makes it aggressive as well as sexually active. But, it has not found a suitable female elephant yet. Herds of elephants have been avoiding Kutta komban, which has been roaming around and destroying the agriculture fields, and keeping villagers on their toes.
"The habitat of elephants keeps on changing. They easily get food in village areas. Hence, it often enters villages, feeding on rice, jaggery from houses while causing damage to houses, coconut trees, and crops including tomatoes, ladies finger. A 15-member RRT, which has been patrolling areas prone to elephant intrusions, has been formed to drive away Kutta komban back into the forest. If the elephant is found, they will take necessary actions and drive it away into the forest by bursting crackers," he added.
He further stated that, apart from the ongoing efforts, a 1.5-km-long solar fence will be installed within one month along the boundaries of the Western Ghats near Sathirapatti for preventing elephant intrusion.
"Additionally, a proposal has been sent to the Tamil Nadu government for setting up a 30 km distance of solar fencing in the boundaries of Western Ghats. A proposal has been sent to set up Elephant Proof Trenches (EPTs) on forest boundaries for preventing elephant intrusion," he added.