Panic spreads as one person on morning walk trampled to death
Ponnampet: Kodagu District’s people live in a constant fear of elephant encounters and the Forest Department has done nothing to prevent this. Even politicians are sitting tight only giving statements on and off whenever there is an elephant attack.
In a previously unheard of incident, a herd of elephants was spotted crossing the Gonikoppal-Ponnampet Road near Aruvathokkalu Coffee Board yesterday and there were a minimum of 13 elephants including bulls, females and calves. The herd emerged from a coffee plantation on the main road and crossed to the other side amidst a row of houses, workshops and other fruit outlets.
The incident has sent shockwaves among the residents as they have said that it is for the first time wild elephants were found on the main road. “Though Aruvathokkalu has some forest area and Devarakadu it is not a territory for wild elephants. While, the Gonikoppal town is hardly one kilometre from here, Ponnampet is located at two kilometres distance,” Chengappa, a resident of Aruvathokkalu told Star of Mysore.
The herd has crossed the landscape and is camping at Manikoppa near Balaji village near Mayamudi, spreading terror there too. According to the Forest Department officials they were trying to drive the elephants back into Nagarahole Forest. “While chasing them off from Aruvathokkalu, we fired gun shots in the air and this scared the elephants and the herd crossed the road. As there was no traffic, a major incident was averted,” said a forest officer.
Man trampled two days back
The elephant herd has been split and while one group is camping in the surroundings of Aruvathokkalu, the other is camping at Manikoppa. Forest Department officers say that it is one of the elephants from the same herd that may have killed a man who was on a walk with his pet dog at Aruvathokkalu on Monday.
Rangaswamy, 52, a resident of PHS Colony in Aruvathokkalu, was taking his usual morning walk near his house alongside his pet dog. However, at around 6 am, an elephant inside a private estate suddenly attacked Rangaswamy who was thrown away. He suffered serious injuries on his chest and leg.
Though he as immediately taken to Gonikoppal Hospital for first aid treatment and was being shifted to Mangaluru Hospital, he breathed his last due to heart attack and pain.
Villagers who are highly critical of the Department said that the herd has been camping inside estates since a fortnight. “Our repeated complaints were not taken into account and one life has been claimed. These forest officials too do not visit estates to find and drive away elephants. Instead, they roam around in official jeeps and claim that there are no elephants,” Chengappa added.