The three-member herd is wreaking havoc across the countryside
Panic gripped several villages of Puttur, Narayanavanam, Karveti Nagaram and Vadamalapeta mandals in Chittoor district after two farmers were critically injured in an attack by two wild elephants in the fields of Lakshmipuram ST Colony at the Narayanavanam foothills, 15 km from Puttur, in the early hours of Tuesday.
A herd of three elephants, known locally as the ‘Bachelor’s Group’, had strayed into the Nagari plains in early January after leaving their habitat at the Pernambut forests of Tamil Nadu, 150 km from Puttur. On February 8, one of the three pachyderms got separated from the group and was roaming in Karveti Nagaram, Puttur and Nagari mandals, while the two elephants had confined their movements between the Narayanavanam hills and Kailasanatha Kona, frequently crossing the Puttur-Chennai national highway.
Forest Range Officer (Puttur) K. Subrahmanyam told The Hindu that the herd had emerged into the hilly terrain of Narayanavanam mandal on the night of February 8. “Since then, we are frantically on the trail of the two elephants, while the elusive one has left into Karveti Nagaram range. The hilly terrain makes tracking difficult. The two are raiding paddy and sugarcane fields and retiring into the hillocks at night,” the FRO said.
“On the night of February 15, our personnel along with elephant trackers were camping atop a mound, and blasting crackers to prevent the two jumbos from entering the fields below. However, the duo took a detour and entered the fields. From midnight till the early hours of Tuesday, the jumbos devoured the crops in a vast stretch. While returning to the hills, the duo came across two farmers while working at a pumpset. Despite our personnel’s efforts to divert their attention, one of the jumbos caught hold of a 60-year-old farmer named Subramanyam by its trunk. After spinning him in the air, the farmer was flung to a distance. Another farmer named Subbarayalu (45) was pushed to the ground by another elephant. After trampling his chest, the elephant twisted him to the other side, and stomped on his spine. The farmer’s ribs and spinal cord were broken. Both were rushed to hospitals in Tirupati. The forest department will bear the entire medical expenditure,” the FRO said.
Meanwhile, the movement of the jumbos criss-crossing the Chennai NH and closer to Kailasanatha Kona waterfalls has become a big worry for forest officials due to heavy public movement. Moreover, the presence of a lone elephant, after it was separated from the herd, has only heightened the tension in the Nagari plains, where jumbo movement was unheard of so far.
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