Panic grips farmers after elephants kill watchman


He reportedly tried to drive them away from field when he was pushed to the ground

In yet another incident of the elephants of the Bachelorsโ€™ Group attacking humans, a 75-year-old watchman at a mango orchard was killed when he reportedly tried to drive two elephants away from the field at Nettam village in Puttur mandal on Sunday.

This is the fourth incident in the last four months after a three-member Bachelorsโ€™ Group of elephants had crossed into Chittoor district from Vellore in Tamil Nadu in the first week of January. The trio has since been occasionally raiding the crops in the plain areas of Nagari, Puttur, Narayanavanam and Karveti Nagaram mandals and has taken shelter behind hillocks and sparse jungles.

At present, one of the three elephants has got separated from the group, and is currently on the prowl at Kailasanatha Kona tourist spot at the foot of Nagari hills. The other two elephants are on the move criss-crossing the Karveti Nagaram and Puttur forest ranges.

Divisional Forest Officer (Chittoor wildlife East) G.G. Narentheran told The Hindu that the elderly man, identified as Tupakula Chinnabba of Kalyanapuram locality in Puttur municipality, was on the night vigil when he heard the barking of dogs. Following the sound, he reached the spot to find two elephants.

When Chinnabba reportedly tried to scare them away, without raising an alarm to alert others in the neighbouring orchards, he was pushed to the ground by one of the elephants, leading to his death.

Action plan

A few weeks ago, forest officials had launched an operation with two kumkis (trained elephants) intending to drive the trio into the forests. An action plan was also chalked out with an outlay of โ‚น10 lakh to tackle the issue. However, as the movement of wild elephants in Palamaner and Kuppam ranges grew, the kumkis were temporarily withdrawn from the drive in the plain areas of the eastern mandals.

The forest officials are also undertaking frequent drives to prevent the elephants from entering into human habitations, fields and from crossing the national highway towards Chennai via Nagari and Nagalapuram.

Forest officials have urged the farmers not to venture alone at nights and avoid engaging elderly people on night duties.

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