Man vs wild: Is India really serious about tackling the mammoth problem?

Elephants stand out as a key conflict species causing high economic losses and are also responsible for highest human fatalities. | Image - Prathap Ravishankar

On the evening of November 9, villagers of Arthanaripalayam—located close to the buffer zone of Annamalai Forest range in Pollachi district in Tamil Nadu—had to face the wrath of a wild elephant that went rogue and entered the human settlement.

The elephant, nicknamed the tusker ‘Arisi Raja’, or rice king in Tamil as it was fond of devouring rice grains in huge quantities, had entered the village in search of food several times last month as well. But that day, it raided nearby farmlands before trampling a man to death and leaving an elderly woman injured.

“Unlike other elephants which usually enter farms, eat crops and move on, this one was different. It went on to kill people and attacked anyone who tried to control it,” said Raja Chinnadurai, a 69-year-old farmer in the village.

Chinnadurai, whose son got injured while trying to drive away the animal, says it broke a six-volt electric fence surrounding his five-acre farm and uprooted some of his coconut trees and corn plantation, causing an estimated loss of ₹50,000.

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