Drought in the Western Ghats Part 4: In Kerala’s Wayanad, acute water scarcity leading to man-animal conflict
Drought in the Western Ghats Part 4: In Kerala’s Wayanad, acute water scarcity leading to man-animal conflict.
The elephants seem to be making a desperate dash for food and water, as the forests wilt and water holes inside dry up.
The Wayanad division alone has distributed Rs 83 lakhs as compensation to the villagers this financial year for crop losses and other destruction.
Muthanga, a vital part of the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary with a lot of human population, has been bearing the brunt for the last three months.
Although they are occasionally prone to crop raids by wild elephants, he says the last two months have been worst he had ever seen.
He says the situation is getting worse every year.
The elephant was on a crop raiding spree across these villages, destroying Valsan’s cultivation and a couple of houses in the area among others.
Forest officials say that the failure of bamboo crop along forests in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu owing to successive drought, and the easy availability of jackfruit and pineapple on the forest fringes, may have pushed the elephants to fruit crops; and the pachyderms are unlikely to stop eating these fruits once they taste them.
Forest officials are calling it a paradigm shift in forest management where the priority will shift from plantations to look for forest resources of water, which means that rather than artificially planting forests, the department would now regenerate the natural forest by trying to improve and preserve the water resources available.
But for this year, villagers live in fear while wildlife lives in hunger and thirst.