The never-ending wildlife raids in Idukki
Giji K. Raman, The Hindu
October 9, 2021
Several parts of Idukki district face the threat of wild elephant attacks
Devikulam and Udumbanchola taluks in Idukki district continue to be the
centre of wild elephant attacks that snuff out lives of a large number of
estate workers and farmers and cause widespread destruction to standing
The latest incident was at Anayirangal, near Munnar, where a man and his
wife travelling on a motorcycle came under wild elephant attack. The woman
was trampled to death. Nearly a month ago, a housewife was killed by a wild
elephant at Poopara.
As many as 39 persons fell prey to wild elephant attacks in the district
since 2002 and most of them were farmers and estate workers. The highest
number of wild elephant attacks was in Munnar division. Estate areas in the
region and human settlement areas in Chinnakanal village are also
An official of the Forest Department says the proximity of forest is a
reason. They attack suddenly as soon as humans come near. The Chinnakanal
area, where landless workers have settled, is in the wild corridor. It is
estimated that nearly a dozen incidents of human deaths had occurred in
Chinnakanal village. And, many people have abandoned their houses.
Another reason cited is the fragmentation of forest regions due to
developmental works. ‘‘Landless workers have settled in the 301 colony in
Chinnakanal, which falls in an elephant corridor,” the official says.
The areas on the Tamil Nadu border such as Nedumkandam, Santhanpara and
Udumbanchola grama panchayats also come under frequent raids. Large-scale
destruction to the cardamom plants have been reported here. The threat
engulfs tribal settlement areas in Devikulam, Udumbanchola and Peerumade
taluks. Residents of Kannampady in the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary say the
animals destroy their cardamom, pepper, and plantain cultivation.
Apart from elephants, wild boars also attack tapioca and other tubers.
Farmers have hence kept away from cultivating the crops for the past five
years. Now, wild elephants have entered scene, says Soman, a farmer.
An official under the Munnar forest division says moves such as alerting
farmers and tracing the movement of wild elephants are done. When a herd of
wild elephants comes, the Rapid Response Team chases them to the forest
area in Tamil Nadu, Arunkumar, a cardamom farmer at Santhanpara, says.
However, the animals come again to destroy crops.
There is a huge time lag in the award of compensation to the victims. The
family of Korampara resident Vimala, who was killed by a wild elephant
while working on a cardamom estate in July last, is yet to get
compensation. Her husband says though they had been promised an emergency
compensation of ₹1 lakh , they got only ₹10,000 so far.
The family of Rajani, another victim of a wild elephant attack on July 26,
2016, at Indiranagar, Marayur, says they were allotted ₹5 lakh. But no
money has come so far. The living conditions of many people who are
bedridden or with serious health issues after wildlife attacks are also
pathetic, according to farmers’ organisations.