Writer Lakshmi Palecanda sent this note to Parthiv Parekh from Mysore, India
Parthiv, I was stunned to read the article 'Elephants in Coffee' in Khabar, because I wanted to write about that as well. You see, our estate is not very far from Nagarhole National Park, and we have a huge elephant problem (pun intended).
It first began in May 2014. Our workers told us that elephants were sighted near our estate, but we were not too worried. Our estate did not border the forest, so the elephants wouldn't come there. But they did. One rainy night in May, we were at our little house on the estate, when we heard trumpeting really close by. We stayed awake hoping that they wouldn't knock down our walls, because they are just mud walls. In the morning, my husband and our maistry (overseer) found footprints galore near a small pond within 100 feet of the house. The prints showed that a young one had gotten caught in the mud and been rescued by its family, hence the noise. Later we found that the herd was 13 strong with one baby at least in their midst. I saw the place where one had slipped and where another had smashed a jackfruit with its feet.
Ever since, elephants have become a huge menace. They are very silent, so you can literally stumble across them. And they are not really gentle giants. They give chase and if they catch you, they either throw you or gore you to death. And they are scared, so they are aggressive. My sister-in-law was sweeping the yard near her house and looked up to see three elephants within 10 feet of her. She ran to her house, and they chased her. She ran around a small hedge, and they ran through it. For some reason, they stopped where the cemented driveway was, and turned and went back. Otherwise, she would have been killed that day.
All this leads to an atmosphere of fear. You have to constantly watch out. It is lovely to walk in the estate, but no longer. You can't outrun them, so you have to stay near habitation. Workers won't come to work if they know you have visiting elephants on your estate. Even staying in a house on the estate can be very scary.
I used to love elephants. I still do, but I'm also deathly scared of them. Their numbers are increasing, and they are becoming used to food and water being easily available on estates. The forest department is doing nothing, except setting off firecrackers, which make them run into the next estate. They are back later, as if nothing has happened. It is a very real problem, that is also occurring in other parts of the world like Tanzania and Sri Lanka. There is no solution in sight.
There is also another problem in Coorg - tigers. Yes, tigers are also entering cattle sheds in some parts of the district and preying upon cattle. And recently, a wild leopard was caught in the Mysore Zoo, which is quite close to our house.
As the Chinese proverb goes, we are living in very 'interesting' times indeed!
Dr. Thomas Grant
Professor of Journalism at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College