Kannur wild tusker pushed back into forest; body of man suspected to have been killed by elephant found

Jose, a resident of the area, had left home on Wednesday morning to see the elephant about which news had spread.

BySouth First Desk

Published Oct 12, 2023 | 2:14 PMUpdatedOct 12, 2023 | 2:14 PM

The elephant that strayed into Ulikkal. (Supplied)

A 71-year-old man identified as Jose was apparently killed by the wild tusker that created panic when it strayed into Ulikkal town of Kannur district, on Wednesday, 11 October, from forests in neighbouring Karnataka.

The lifeless body of the man was discovered on Thursday morning in an area dense with trees, through which the tusker had passed while being driven away from the town by Forest Department officials, police said.

“There were injuries on the body which indicate he was thrown and stomped on by the tusker. The body was found in an area dense with trees not visible from the road,” an officer of Ulikkal police station told PTI.

The victim’s family has identified the body, he added.

Police suspect that when the elephant was being driven away from the populated area, it attacked the man who came in its path.

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Strayed into the path of tusker

Jose, had left home on Wednesday morning to see the elephant about which news had spread.

It is suspected that as the forest officials burst crackers to drive away the tusker from the town, Jose strayed into its path and could not escape to safety.

The tusker entered the town at around 8 am on Wednesday and caused panic among the people. On seeing the elephant, people ran helter-skelter for safety.

Earlier, on Wednesday, Aysha Ibrahim, ward member of Ullikkal West, speaking to the South First, had said that “six people fleeing from the jumbo fell and suffered injuries”.

Related: Six injured as Kerala’s Kannur grapples with a wild tusker

Rescue operation

The wild tusker was driven into the forests of neighbouring Karnataka after an over 12-hour-long operation involving over a hundred forest and police personnel.

Hundreds of personnel from the Forest Department and the police reached the place and commenced their efforts to drive the pachyderm back into the forest from where the tusker had come.

Ratheeshan P, Thaliparamba forest range officer, said that at around 2 pm on Wednesday, the jumbo stayed put at a vast cashew farm near Vayathur.

An operation to chase it back by bursting firecrackers has been called off after the animal was found showing signs of weakness. He said that the jumbo was just one-and-a-half kilometres from the Karnataka forests bordering Kerala.

“We will resume the drive at an appropriate time and the jumbo is expected to be back in the Karnataka forest by tonight,” the range officer said on Wednesday.

However, heavy rains in the second half of the day played spoilsport and forced them to temporarily halt the operation, police said.

Subsequently, after the rains stopped, the forest and police officials renewed their efforts, and by around 9 pm, the tusker was finally driven into the forests in the neighbouring state of Karnataka, police said.

Schools, shops and other establishments in the area were shut to ensure no one was attacked by the elephant.

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A first for Ulikkal

According to the police, this was the first time that a wild elephant had entered Ulikkal.

However, the nearby areas like Iritty are wild jumbo-affected, and elephants often stray into the tribal settlements near the Aaralam farm spread across 7,500 acres. Some six months ago, a person had died at Perinkari near Ulikkal in an elephant attack, the police said.

“The Iritty and Aralam regions are located south and south-east of Ulikkal. The new tusker arrived from the Karnataka forest region lying on the northeast side of Ulikkal. It travelled nearly four kilometres away from Karnataka forest through Vayathur and is trying to return,” said Ratheeshan.

Recent translocations

As many as three wild jumbos which put the lives and property of people in three different districts in Kerala were tranquilised, captured with the help of kumki elephants of the Forest Department, and translocated on trucks either to the department’s rehab centres or in another forest since January this year.

The wild tusker Arikomaban in the Idukki district, PM2 which was captured from Bathery town, and the other jumbo Palakkad Tusker 7 (PT 7) were captured and translocated.

(With PTI inputs)