Kerala Kaumudi Online
Wednesday, 24 April 2024 2.04 PM IST

Public outrage in Wayanad


Within a week, wild elephant attacks claimed the lives of two persons in Wayanad. VP Paul, a watcher with the Kuruva Island ecotourism centre, was the latest victim of the elephant attack. Kuruva Island has been closed for a week due to the threat of Belur Makhna, a wild elephant that from reached Karnataka. Paul had the job of stopping travellers on the way and sending them back. Although Paul ran after seeing a herd of wild elephants coming out of the forest, was chased and trampled by one of the elephants. Paul was immediately taken to the Govt Medical College Hospital, Mananthavady and subjected to surgery. However, the internal bleeding did not stop.

Following this, it was decided to shift him to the Kozhikode Medical College. However, the ambulance brought from Coimbatore to take the patient to Kozhikode Medical College had no sufficient facilities to transport the patient. This led to protests. Later, he was taken to Kozhikode Medical College Hospital in another ambulance, but his life could not be saved. Relatives are saying that Paul's life could have been saved if he had received adequate treatment immediately. Wildlife attacks cannot be prevented by the government alone. At the same time, the government is at fault for not arranging sufficient facilities at the Mananthavady Medical College to provide adequate treatment to those injured in wild animal attacks and for the delay in setting up ambulance facilities. This is what infuriates the locals even more. A hartal was observed in Wayanad in protest against this.

Wild animal attacks are happening in Wayanad not only in the areas close to the forest. Tigers and elephants are entering populated areas where there is no forest and claiming the lives of the locals. Although the forest department prepared a master plan for Wayanad in 2023, it has not yet been implemented. There must be an effort towards a comprehensive solution rather than some temporary measure when each death occurs. Long-term plans are needed to prevent the wild animal menace in Wayanad. Developing such strategies is primarily the job of the Forest Department. Central assistance can also be sought for this.

The increase in wildlife attacks can be attributed to several factors, including forest encroachment, changes to traditional crops and depletion of vegetation in the forests. For the past year, no wild elephant has made its way to Vythiri in Wayanad. This is because five kilometres of electric fence have been erected and maintained here by the panchayat. Wild elephants are entering the countryside due to the depletion of vegetation in the forests. To solve this, the three states should jointly devise and implement plans to plant reeds and other trees in the forest. Projects should be implemented by involving the locals and gaining their trust. If not, public outrage will flare up in Wayanad.

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