Woman leaves jungle after four decades

Lakshmi Awwa, a childless widow reluctantly agreed to leave her jungle hut to live in a nearby village a couple of days back to facilitate restoration of the corridor in Begur range, an official of Delhi-based NGO Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) said.

"She had no belongings other than a small Lord Ganesha idol she had throughout her life," said Sabu Jahar, manager for the Elephant Corridor Project taken up by WTI with support of a UK-based conservation NGO.Her husband Dasappan Chetty had passed away 15 years back, since then she has been living alone in the forest hut.

The woman had resisted pressures from relatives and officials to leave her jungle home as she found it peaceful to live there."Why should one be afraid of animals as they do not harm anybody unless they are harmed", she was quoted by WTI officials as saying.
Forest Guards used to call in at her hut periodically and give her rations and other essential supplies.

In 2003, 28 families were rehabilitated from the forest in the area. At that time Awwa declined to leave her home, saying she could not leave it since her husband was buried there.

As part of plans to restore the elephant corridors in the region, the organisation is rehabilitating families dwelling within the limits of Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary.Awwa began her forest life with her husband 40 years ago. She has now shifted to Panavalli near Kattikkulam, WTI sources said

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