Coimbatore’s Govanur Valley turns a hotbed of negative human-elephant
Wilson Thomas, The Hindu
January 20, 2023
The Govanur Valley in Coimbatore district is emerging as a hotbed of
negative interactions involving humans and wild elephants.
On Friday, R. Bhagyam, 75, a resident of Govanur, was attacked by a wild
elephant when she went to an open space near her house to attend nature’s
call early in the morning. Her condition was stable.
On Thursday, a 65-year-old farmer was trampled to death by a lone tusker
near a temple at Ranganathapuram in the Valley around 5.30 p.m. The same
elephant had attacked another farmer aged 65 in the morning.
According to the Forest Department, three herds of elephants and two
tuskers are roaming in forest areas coming under the Naickenpalayam section
of the Periyanaickenpalayam forest range in the Valley.
Members of the Govanur Meetpu Kuzhu, a committee of people who are
fighting against illegal mining by brick kiln operators in the Valley,
allege that elephants started entering villages due to excavation of red
earth from uncultivated lands at the foothills and forest boundaries.
“Pits ranging from 10 to 50 feet have been formed along forest boundaries
due to illegal mining by 33 brick kilns in the Valley. Elephants had been
using these lands for foraging and migration in the past. Now, they are
forced to enter villages,” said a member of the committee, requesting
He accused brick kiln operators of shifting existing stock at night and
clearing trails of their illegal mining using excavators, worsening
negative interactions between humans and elephants.
This was in violation of a proceeding issued by the Tamil Nadu Pollution
Control Board on December 20 last year, ordering closure and disconnection
of power supply of 100 brick chambers and country kilns located in
different parts of Coimbatore, including 30-odd units in Govanur Valley,
for want of various permits, he said.
Activist S. Ganesh of Thadagam Valley Protection Committee alleged that
illegal excavation for brick making destroyed transit paths and pastures
along forest boundaries that were in Govanur Valley, which were
traditionally used by wild elephants.
“Thadagam Valley, which used to be a hotbed of negative human-elephant
interactions, reported zero human deaths after 177 brick kilns which
functioned illegally were sealed in 2021,” he claimed.
The last human casualty due to elephant attack reported in Coimbatore
Forest Division was in August 2022 when an eco-watcher of the Forest
Department was trampled to death by a wild elephant in Boluvampatti forest
“Additional staff from nearby Mettupalayam and Sirumugai forest ranges have
been brought to Naickenpalayam forest section to handle the current
situation. The department will check all aspects to address the situation,”
A senior official from the Revenue Department said that its staff will
check where brick manufacturers engage in transportation of bricks and
other illegal activities at night.