Man killed in wild elephant attack in Kerala’s Wayanad, locals stage protest

The vehicles of the local MLA and the District police chief were also blocked by the agitators, who raised 'go back' slogans.

ByPTI

Published Feb 10, 2024 | 4:17 PMUpdated Feb 10, 2024 | 5:40 PM

Man killed in wild elephant attack in Kerala’s Wayanad, locals stage protest

A 42-year-old man died after being attacked by a wild elephant that strayed into a human settlement near Mananthavady Wayanad on the morning of Saturday, 10 February, police said.

Aji died at Mananthavady Medical College where he was admitted following the attack that occurred at around 7.30 am on Saturday, they said.

CCTV visuals showed the wild elephant fitted with a radio collar damaging the compound wall of a house and attacking the man.

Kerala Forest Minister AK Saseendran termed as “shocking” the death of the man and said the frequent news of man-animal conflict coming from Wayanad was a matter of concern.

On the night of Friday, 9 February, a forest wildlife watcher was grievously injured in a tiger attack and he is undergoing treatment, he said.

Protests

Meanwhile, angered locals staged a flash protest by blocking the Mananthavady-Mysore, Mananthavady-Kozhikode and Thalassery roads.

The vehicles of the local MLA and the District police chief were also blocked by the agitators, who raised “go back” slogans.

A section of protesters marched to the sub-collector office in Wayanad where the higher officials of the district including the Collector and others are holding a meeting. Some violent agitators banged the doors and grills of the sub-collector office.

The locals blocked the streets and are protesting by keeping the body of Aji in the middle of the road.

Opposition reacts

Congress MP from Wayanad, Rahul Gandhi has expressed shock regarding the incident. He further urged the urge the Union and State governments to take decisive steps and put in place a response mechanism that can protect both the communities and the wildlife of the region.

Kerala LoP VD Satheesan squarely blamed state Forests Minister AK Saseendran and his department for failing to track the elephant which has a radio collar and came from the neighbouring state of Karnataka.

He alleged that neither the minister, who is also in charge of the Wayanad district nor his department were doing anything to save the lives and livelihoods of people living close to the forests as man-animal conflicts keep rising in the state.

“He (minister) is not qualified to hold the post, and should resign,” Satheesan demanded

Preparations to tranquilise

Meanwhile, minister Saseendran told the media that unprecedented incidents were happening at Wayanad.

“A wild elephant trampled a youngster to death and it was shocking and a matter of concern. We are taking all necessary steps. But the higher officials are unable to reach the place (due to protests). The district officials are ready to discuss the matter with the locals,” Saseendran said.

He also informed that the Forest officials were preparing to tranquilise the elephant.

“The High Court is also monitoring the situation considering the recent Thanneer Komban issue. We have to monitor the elephant and see whether it is having any health issues or any injuries. We need a peaceful atmosphere to do so before tranquilising,” the minister said.

The minister also said there was a delay of at least three hours in receiving the signals from the radio collar ID from the elephant.

“There was a delay in receiving the signal from the radio collar. In fact there is no centralised system to monitor the signals and coordinate. We need to form a new protocol to coordinate between various forest departments,” Saseendran said.

The minister further said the order to tranquilise the elephant will be issued soon.

More response teams to be deployed

The minister said more response teams will be sent to the locality and a decision on whether to drive it back into the forest or capture it and take it to the rehabilitation centre, will be taken soon.

Saseendran said the Chief Minister’s office was looking into the concerns of the people of Wayanad, who are suffering from animal attacks and the subsequent crop loss.

“We are doing all humanly possible things to solve the issue. The CMO is monitoring the issue,” the minister added.

Locals alleged that the elephant crossed the Kerala border and reached Kuruvadweep locality early in the morning but the forest department failed to announce the same and warn the people from venturing out.

Currently, the district administration has issued prohibitory orders in multiple wards of Mananthavady.

Recently, a jumbo from Karnataka, called “Thanneer Komban”, fitted with a radio collar had ventured into Mananthavady town and roamed the streets for over 16 hours after which it was tranquilised.

However, upon being shifted to Karnataka, that elephant had died.

Thanneer Komban death: As Kerala appoints probe panel, Karnataka minister says animals have no borders

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