Pulpally: Wayanad is seeing the arrival of a different kind of 'tourists,' who are causing much damage in the district as well as posing a big threat to people's lives. Wild elephants, leaving the forests in search of food and water during the dry season, are the visitors leaving a trail of destruction in inhabited areas and on cultivated land.
Forest officials say even herds of jumbos not seen in Kerala forests have been reported in Wayanad, suggesting that they came from the neighboring states. Most of the animals causing damage in areas bordering the forest are young.
Herds were most recently sighted at Irulam forest area, Chellakkolli and Vadakkanad in the wildlife sanctuary. Elephants from Karnataka have reached Vilangadi in Pathiri forest also. The herds comprise ten to twenty animals and they stroll around villages and plantations like a group of tourists enjoying Wayanad’s natural beauty.
During daytime, the elephants remain in the forest and step out at dusk. Till daybreak, they cause mayhem in cultivated land. Even passersby and vehicles coming that way are not spared. Recently, several vehicles were stranded along Chekady route, where an elephant herd was on the rampage.
Some elephants, especially youngsters, have a tendency to attack people and cause damage to crops. Though electric fences have been set up to prevent wild animals from entering villages, the elephants bypass the fence and reach inhabited areas. Some elephants travel a long way from the forest.
With forests drying up, life has become difficult for animals in the forest. Many elephant herds are facing shortage of food and water and they leave forest out of desperation. Most streams and wells in the wooded areas of Kerala are now dry. The situation is much worse in Karnataka forests. Majority of the elephant herds seen in Wayanad belong to that state, especially Bandipore, Nagarhole and Muthumala forests. The district will, in all likelihood, host them till the next rainy season.