|Rogue elephant smoking and drinking. www.jantoo.com|
|Madkkarai Maharaja rogue elephant.www.thehindu.com|
Many human habitats near the forest areas face threats of wild elephants that come in herds and damage the farm lands and crops. This human- elephant conflicts continues unabated and the Wild Trust of India (WTI) is doing a yeomen service to come up with viable solutions to resolve this so serious an issue. The main reasons attributed are shrinkage of elephant habitats and and loss of adequate food for wild animals..
|Elephant with good eye sight for eatables? .cartoonstock.com|
Though such rampaging elephants cause, pain, human deaths, loss of properties, income, etc., some wild elephants' strange acts, unusual, weird behavior give us a break from anxiety and tension and over a period of time we get used to their funny behavior and begin to enjoy their antics and adamant nature unmindful of the damages caused by them. The case of one particular rogue elephant from Madukkarai near Coimbatore city, Tamil Nadu is of some interest. His name is Maharaja and befitting his majestic name he had kept the the villagers and the forest officials on tenterhooks for a pretty long time, playing hide and seek with them. Their various stratagems, tricks and strategies became futile and there was nothing to stop this fearless tusker when his mind was set on something. He was active in the villages around and sometimes on the outskirts of Madukarai, a small town well-known for a cement factory. His main targets were succulent fruit bearing trees and, in particular, banana plantations. Elephants are fond of bananas. People tried every thing to stop this brave elephant - chilly fences, mild electric fences, trenches, alarm connected solar fences, etc to scare him silly, nothing succeeded to cow him down and his spirit. He was so strong and sturdy driven by hunger and taste of nice fruits, he trampled on these impediments just like a road roller or bulldozer. People at last nick- named him as 'Madukkarai Maharaja' as he was fond of this place and the vicinity. In spite of their miserable time caused by him, the people here had a vein of humor and used to address this solitary rogue tusker by a rhythmic nick name.
|wild elephants ravaged banana farm, Kittampalayam, TN, thehindu.com|
|Elephants and bananas. www.gettyimages.com|
|elephants and bees.bellowsbees.blogspot.com|
'Madukkarai Maharaja' has become a symbol of never- ending conflict between humans and elephants, competing for food and living space with humans. Unsuccessful, but some times fatal attempts made by the forest officials to trap him did not scare him. Further, it throws light on the behavior changes of pachyderms, relevant to the changing habitat and ecosystem.
On just one occasion in September, 2015, having no other choice, Maharaja killed a forest guard by trampling him when he and other officials tried to drive him out. This tragedy happened because the din and excitement caused by the crowd was too much for him to bear it. Considering his past clean record can we assume he might have done this killing in a moment of aberration? Previously, he had no records of violence against humans.
|The Coimbatore Forest Division covers 693 sq. km area and Madukkarai is part it. The Forest department has reported the highest incidence of human-elephant conflict in the state of Tamil Nadu and in the last 20 years -100 people lost their lives and 24 elephants were electrocuted. There were 1828 crop damage claims made between 2011 and 2015. This will give you some idea about the enormity of elephant- human confrontation being faced by the forest department as well as by farm owners who mainly depend on the agricultural income. This problem did not exist 10 years ago and this is due to the growth of human settlements near habitats coupled with growth of population and industrialization.|
" We thought you would leave this forest, but you left this world".
Assam Haathi project bees keep the wild elephants at bay www.alanhesse.co.uk