Udhagamandalam: The forest department has initiated a public announcement system in a bid to caution the public about stray wild elephants entering human habitats in Bitherkad range in the Gudalur division.
The forest department has formed special teams to patrol the Bitherkad range in shifts throughout the day and night. Whenever elephant movements are noticed, residents of that particular area are alerted.Venkatesh Prabhu, district forest officer (DFO), Gudalur division said, “We have initiated a public announcement system to alert the locals and minimise man-animal conflicts.”
Man-animal conflicts, especially involving elephants are common in the Gudalur forest division, which comprises five ranges. The division has two elephant corridors, in Bitherkad and O’Valley which are located adjacent to Kerala border, however, they are yet to be notified by the government.
The DFO said at least 40 elephants are currently straying into human habitats in this region every day. “Jackfruit season is at its peak in the Bitherkad area. The smell of the fruits attracts the jumbos into human habitats, even though they have access to enough fodder and water inside the reserve forest,” the DFO said. He added that normally, during the fruit season, around 15-20 elephants stray into human habitats. “This season, it is unbelievable that over 40 elephants are straying into Bitherkad range,” he said.

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