Wild makhna elephant in Coimbatore gets aggressive, knocks down compound wall 

The crop-raiding makhna elephant, which was captured in Palacode in Dharmapuri and released into the forest area in Varagaliyar near Top Slip in Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) on February 6, trekked more than 100 kms to reach thickly populated localities in Coimbatore outskirts on Wednesday.

A ‘makhna’ elephant that had come out from a reserve forest in the Pollachi division and had entered human habitations on Tuesday, started exhibiting aggressive behaviour on Wednesday in localities near Madukkarai in Coimbatore district, causing panic among residents.

Efforts to drive the elephant in the direction of the forest did not materialise, as the animal kept moving along farm lands before entering human habitatations in Madukkarai taluk, a suburb of Coimbatore city.

It attacked Palanisamy (80) with its trunk as he unknowingly went near the elephant on the Coimbatore-Palakkad Road in Madukkarai. He then fell to the ground and suffered an injury on his hands. Acting swiftly, Forest Department staff chased away the elephant and rescued the elderly man. He was then taken to a private hospital.

Soon after the incident, a large team of the Forest Department comprising around 75 staff intensified their driving operation. However, the makhna continued to wander around in residential areas triggering panic moments. It damaged the compound wall of a house and charged on people, who had gathered to watch the operation. More than 50 cops had a tough time regulating the crowd.

The makhna elephant, Forest Department officials said is the same animal captured from a village in Dharmapuri district earlier this month. The elephant, which had been raiding crops for months, was tranquillised and captured at Palacode in deference to the demand raised by people. It was released at Varakaliyar in the Ulandy Range.

According to Forest Department sources, the elephant was sighted at about 3 a.m. in the Palani Goundanur area, and subsequently in Sokkanur, Valukkuparai, Nachipalayam, Arisipalayam, Palathurai, Kurumbapalayam, Anbu Nagar, Pillaiyarpuram and Sugunapuram.

The pachyderm was last seen in MGR Nagar near a stream covered with prosopis and tamarind trees, behind Krishna College, Sugunapuram, District Forest Officer, Coimbatore Division, T.K. Ashok Kumar, said.

A vehicle belonging to the Forest Department personnel in Madukkarai Range was damaged by the elephant in Pillaiyarpuram.

Forest field teams from Madukkarai, Coimbatore, Bolampatti and Periyanayakkanpalayam ranges are continuously monitoring the elephant. Forest Veterinary Officer Sukumar is accompanying the team, assisted by volunteers of the Coimbatore Wildlife Conservation Trust and Nature Conservation Society. Police personnel from Coimbatore City have joined the Forest team in regulating the crowd around the elephant.

Earlier in the day, the elephant exhibited aggressive behaviour at P.K. Pudur locality, where it knocked down a compound wall to get to a nearby road. Videos and photographs of the elephant’s movement that were shared on social media platforms revealed panic-stricken local residents yelling at the elephant, and the jumbo trumpeting aggressively in return.

Forest Department sources said the elephant’s movement was being constantly monitored, and the Chief Wildlife Warden was apprised of the situation. Further instructions are awaited on the handling of the elephant, department sources said.

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