Pulpally: Wild animal incursions into human settlements in Kerala's Wayanad district have increased as summer advances. Crops along the forest regions are damaged as animals, particularly elephants, search for food and water. Farmers bear the brunt of the animal invasion as farms and even plantations get destroyed.
Several elephant herds could be spotted along the riverbanks of Kabani and Kannaram Puzha. The herds that enter the human habitation areas by twilight, destroy the electric wires and feed on the bananas and coconuts. Bamboo plantations are denuded slowly as elephant menace continues unchecked.
As several water sources in the forest have dried up thirsty animals foray into human colonies and farms, leading to man-animal conflict.
Water crisis in forest has worsened as ponds and bunds were destroyed during last year’s flood. The check dams at Chethalayam, Kurichyadu, Ammavayal, and Goloor were also damaged in the floods. None of these have any water now.
Wildfire threat too is another concern as layers of dry leaves accumulate in summer. As fewer funds have been allocated, not much preventive measures have also been taken in this regard. Even work on creating fire line has been found to be lagging.
Lack of adequate forest watchers also adds to the problem. Forest personnel often work round the clock as they are called to chase away animals during nightfall. They are overburdened as they are also engaged for tasks such as electric fence construction and evaluating the compensation amount for damages caused by animals.
Even daily-wage forest watchers are burdened with lot of tasks. One or two watchers have to stay guard for a distance of 10 km or more. Earlier, the local residents also helped in the tasks. However, they now desist from cooperating after several people were harmed by wild animals in the dark.