Human-animal conflict on the rise again in Kodagu
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Human-animal conflict on the rise again in Kodagu

September 1, 2021

KPCC Legal Cell President A.S. Ponnanna demands permanent project

Madikeri: Repeated incidents of man-animal conflicts are on the rise again in Kodagu and people are being killed as they are coming in the way of wild animals, especially elephants. 

Rapid decline in forest cover has reduced the inhabitable area and resources for elephants and as a result, they venture into surrounding human inhabited areas, killing people. On Monday, an estate labourer at Siddapura was trampled to death when he was on his way home after purchasing food grains.

Kariya (53) worked as a manual labourer in a private estate and after his death, Forest Department officers paid a compensation of Rs. 2 lakh.

The rampant man-animal conflict is highlighted in Kodagu only when there is a death. Though regularly people get killed and crops are destroyed on a daily basis, the news dies down soon after the compensation is paid.

Human-elephant interactions have become so commonplace in the district that they make news only if they turn violent and ugly. For example, the regular tiger menace in South Kodagu was highlighted only when three persons including a teenager was mauled to death last year and to catch the tiger, more than 300 Forest officers camped in Srimangala and surrounding areas for over a month. 

The tiger menace hit national headlines but was quickly forgotten after the dead body of the big cat was found and after the families were paid compensation. Even before the tiger took three victims and even after the feline’s death, many cattle heads were killed in South Kodagu and none of the deaths got the required attention and even the Department brushed them off saying those are stray incidents and they paid some paltry sum to the animal owner though the farmer had lost his means of livelihood.

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Though many environmental activists have raised their voice against the Government apathy towards man-animal conflict in this tiny district, successive Governments have ignored them and have only made periodic announcements without doing anything concrete.

Though Kodagu farmers live in constant fear of the elephants, there is no animosity towards them as they have a long-standing relationship with them and know their behaviour, taste, habitat and also habits. Their anger is, however, against the Forest Department for not doing enough to protect them.

In March this year, the then Forest Minister Aravind Limbavali announced in the Vidhana Soudha that a Kodagu-specific Foundation will be formed to mitigate human-animal conflict. Sadly, only this announcement happened without the Minister outlining what the Foundation would do and                                                                   what were its objectives. The announcement remains only on paper now. 

Meanwhile, KPCC Legal Cell President A.S. Ponnanna has urged the State Government to implement a permanent project to prevent wild elephant menace in Kodagu. In a press release, he said that the Government has turned a blind eye despite the elephant-human conflict being on the rise in the district.

“The Forest Department has not ensured access of fodder and water to elephants in the forest and as a result elephants are straying into coffee estates, killing people. Agricultural crops have been destroyed by elephants and the Department has not been compensating the farmers who have suffered losses,” he added.  

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“Solar fences and railway track fences installed to prevent elephant menace have been proven ineffective. Even the elected representatives of Kodagu have failed to raise the issue in the Assembly,” he said.

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