Farmers in several parts of Kodagu, who have incurred huge losses following untimely rainfall, have also been tasked with protecting their crops from elephants.
Many herds have been entering paddy fields and coffee plantations and destroying the standing crops.
After the end of the monsoon, wild elephants have started straying into the villages and have become a headache for the farmers.
The wild elephants have destroyed paddy and coffee in Siddapura, Virajpet, Maldare and Puliyeri villages. Along with paddy, even banana plantations have been damaged. Several elephants have been camping in coffee estates in the district.
Farmer Poovanna from Srimangala said, “The elephants were not straying into paddy fields in the past. Now, they are engaged in damaging paddy as well, thus incurring a huge loss to farmers. The department pays meagre compensation for the loss of crops.”
The elephant menace has also increased in Ponnampet, Thithimathi, Birunani, Gonikoppa, Srimangala, Ponnampet and Irpu areas.
A few of the elephants have strayed near the courtyard of the houses and damaged flower pots in the courtyard as well.
After a wild elephant attacked and injured a student in Virajpet taluk, four months ago, the education department had promised to identify villages reeling under elephant menace and arrange a vehicle to ferry the schoolchildren. However, the promise has not been fulfilled so far.
Rapid Response Team in a few villages has arranged vehicles to ferry the schoolchildren to school and drop them back to their houses.
In several affected areas, schoolchildren venture out of their houses with fear of elephant attacks.
There are instances of elephants chasing labourers working in coffee estates at Maldare, Siddapura, Chattalli and Ammathi. Fearing elephant attack, several labourers stopped visiting coffee plantations for work.
In the past, hundreds of labourers from Davangere, Chikkaballapura, Kolar, Raichur, Dharwad, Koppala and Gadag districts were arriving Kodagu in search of employment. Owing to the increase in elephant menace, these labourers have stopped coming to the district in search of work, said estate owners.
South Kodagu is not facing the problem of wild elephants alone. There is a fear of a stray tiger after pug marks were found at Kurchi and surrounding villages of Ponnampet.
As a result, farmers are scared to venture into paddy fields, to get back the cattle left for grazing in the evening.