Elephant herd goes on a rampage, destroys crops in Chittoor

The loss could be in lakhs, say farmers

A 14-member herd of wild elephants, which has been on the prowl in Palamaner range since a month, went on a rampage wreaking heavy damage to banana and tomato crops over a large stretch of fields in Nagireddipalle and Kummaramadugu villages of V. Kota mandal from Saturday midnight till early hours of Sunday.

According to information, the herd came to a freshly-planted banana plantation at Nagireddipalle last night, and reportedly devoured over one thousand plants. Later, the herd made its way to the neighbouring village, where a vast stretch of tomato crops was destroyed. As the herd consisted of baby elephants, farmers did not venture to drive them away. A few minutes before dawn, the herd retreated into a nearby stockade of trees.

A farmer, who owned one of the fields, deplored that the loss could be in several lakhs of rupees. Several farmers observed that with the fresh spell of rains since June, they hoped for good times and took to fresh plantation of banana and tomatoes. They said their entire investment was rendered waste in the jumbo raids.

‘Meagre compensation’

“For a loss of over ₹5 lakh, the forest department would pay a meagre compensation of ₹5,000. In spite of our repeated requests to initiate steps for protection of croplands from such raids, or erect fences at the forest-fringes, nothing has been done,” a farmer said.

Divisional Forest Officer (Chittoor West) S. Ravi Shankar confirmed that a large number of wild elephants split into several herds was on the move at the tri-State junction between Kuppam and Palamaner ranges. “We are trying our best to address the elephant-farmer conflict in the region, but the problem continues to persist,” he said.

The official denied the observations of the farmers regarding payment of compensation to the crop losses. “Officials of the horticulture and agriculture departments enumerate the crop losses in the fields after the raids. We only process the compensation as per their reports and the relevant rules and regulations,” Mr. Ravi Shankar said.

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