Tribal woman fourth to be killed within two months in wild elephant attacks in Kerala

PTI, Mar 28, 2024, 7:15 PM IST

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A tribal woman was allegedly trampled to death by a wild elephant deep inside a forest area bordering Wayanad and Malappuram districts, police said here on Thursday.

Police said her husband suffered serious injuries in the attack. The couple were attacked when they reportedly went into the forest to collect honey, they said.

The incident occurred in the Parappanpara forests, and authorities came to know of it on Thursday after fellow members of the tribal community informed the police and forest officials.

”The incident happened around five kilometres inside the forest from Meppadi in Wayanad district. Her husband has suffered a major injury to his thigh bone. He is undergoing treatment,” a police officer said.

The couple belongs to the Kattunaikkan community, police said, adding that the body of the woman has been taken to a nearby hospital for a postmortem.

This is the fourth death caused by wild elephants in Kerala in the past two months. A forest watcher, 50-year-old Paul, was trampled to death by a wild elephant while he was on his way to work at Kuruva in Wayanad district on February 16. A week before that, another Wayanad resident Aji (42), was trampled to death by a radio-collared elephant in Mananthavady in the district, triggering massive protests.

In January, an estate watcher, Lakshmanan (65) was killed by a wild tusker at Tholpetty, also in the same district.

In central Kerala’s Idukki district, which is also heavily forested and mountainous but about 330 km away from the northern Kerala district of Wayanad, a woman identified as Indira Ramakrishnan was killed in an elephant attack in the first week of March. In another incident of human-wildlife conflict, Prajeesh (36) was mauled by a tiger in December last year near a forest area in Vakeri in Wayanad.

Local residents of both districts have raised the issue of wild animals such elephants, tigers, bears and wild boars often encroaching upon populated areas, posing a threat to human life and property.

The Kerala government has been seeking to amend the Wildlife (Protection) Act, citing challenges faced by the state in dealing with instances of wild animals encroaching into human settlements. Meanwhile, the BJP on Thursday criticised Wayanad MP and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Kerala’s Left government for failing to address the increasing incidents of human-wildlife conflict in the hill district.

BJP state President and the party’s candidate in the Wayanad Lok Sabha seat K Surendran alleged that both the state government and the sitting MP of the constituency have failed to address the issue of human-wildlife conflict.

Condoling the woman’s death, Surendran said in a post on X: ”The human-wildlife conflict in Kerala, particularly in Wayanad, is a recurring nightmare. The State Govt led by @pinarayivijayan and the MP @RahulGandhi have failed to address this crisis.

”Is Rahul only interested in votes? The wild elephants came to the town more often than Rahul Gandhi came to Wayanad. He seems indifferent to human lives, enjoying his outstation visits without truly engaging with the plight of the people. It’s time for Rahul Gandhi to answer for his negligence,” Surendran said.

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