Around a hundred villagers of Gandhi Nagar hamlet, abutting the Koundinya wildlife sanctuary under Palamaner forest range, staged a protest in front of the Forest Range Officer at Palamaner on Monday demanding protection of their crops and homes following the movement of a four-elephant herd close to their habitation since a fortnight.
The villagers said that the herd of four elephants, who strayed in from the Koundinya project, had been camping close to Gandhi Nagar hamlet since a fortnight, regularly raiding the standing crops at nights and retreating into the forests at daybreak. The villagers alleged that in spite of their repeated appeals to the field staff to initiate steps for driving them back into the sanctuary, no action had been taken so far. The villagers expressed anguish that the movement of the jumbos close to human habitations had posed a grave danger to people, particularly the elderly, women and children.
Palamaner police rushed to the spotwhen the villagers’ protest led to a traffic jam at the busy tri-State junction towards Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and cleared the snarl with an assurance that the matter would be pursued with the forest officials.
Forest Range Officer (Palamaner) G. Sivanna said that despite the efforts of the forest watchers and elephant trackers to drive the four wild elephants from Gandhi Nagar village, the animals were reluctant to move away.
“We perceive that the herd is attracted to the availability of fodder and water close to the village in view of the onset of summer effect in the forests. Due to the proximity of the national highway, we are cautious not to put them to any risk. We have also taken serious note of the damage to crops in the village. A suitable decision would be taken to drive them back into the thickets after consulting with district officials,” the FRO said.