Athirappilly: Elephant menace leading to loss of lives, crops and property is reported regularly from Kerala's forested border regions. In the latest episode in the human-animal conflict, herds of elephants went on a rampage at Mukkampuzha Colony at Athirappilly in Thrissur district. The elephants damaged houses and their little ones even literally stole food kept at homes!
Six houses at the Mukkampuzha Colony were damaged by elephants the other day. The houses of Appunni, Radha and Sadhendran were among those destroyed when their families were deep inside the woods, gathering forest produce.
Apart from one resident, Anish, all others of the 18 families in the hamlet had gone to the forest during the raid. The main task of Anish is now to chase away the elephants when others are engaged elsewhere.
Almost all the houses in the hamlet have come under the attack of the elephant at least once. The doors, windows and utensils have all been destroyed. The colony dwellers have to spent all their earnings to repair houses at regular intervals.
Considering the latest pattern of their incursions, it seems the elephants have devised a strategy for their raids. It has been observed they first break down the doors of the house, making enough way for the baby elephants to enter the structure and steal the food.
Elephants often romp into the hamlet by 5pm and run riot until the daybreak. Not just houses, banana plants and coconut trees are pulled down.
Though several tricks have been used to chase away the elephants, these do not work always. Sometimes, even lighting a fire or bursting firecrackers fail to force the elephants to retreat. They even feed on the ash remaining were a fire was lit to deter them.
The menace aggravated after the electric fencing in the area was destroyed. The colony dwellers also need to inform the forest department once the herd enters the colony and seek permission to put up resistance.
A trench should be built around the colony to put an end to the trouble, the fed-up residents demanded.