Today is the second time I was seriously charged by an elephant because of the irresponsible behavior of people.
The first time was on 25th January at 10:20 am (these things tend to stick to memory). The personnel of a nearby school at Vazhaithottam came to the river near our house throwing loud fire crackers. I went to let them know they were elephants around and was charged very seriously by Cortes. This happened because I was looking for him on the wrong side and I could not see him early enough. I was probably three seconds from being killed if my wife hadn’t shouted at the top of her voice during the charge and also risked her life by running towards the elephant. Elephants get confused when they hear loud noise and tend to lose their focus of the target.
It happened again today. We saw a group of seven people and a dog walking near the river again at 10:00 am coming from the Mavinhalla village. I went to advise them to leave. I barely had the time to ask them who they were and where they had come from, when I saw an elephant charging. I only had the time to shout “run”. Luckily, we all managed to reach the house safely, but if I had not gone at the risk of my life, they would have been casualties.
Recorded human deaths due to an elephant charge due to human disturbance inflate the statistics of human-elephant conflict (HEC). However, as we can see here, there was no conflict. In the first case, a few local people wanted to have a good time near a stream across from a Reserved Forest. In this place they are bound to meet with elephants. In order to do what they want, they regularly disturb threatened species – in a protected area. In the second case, the group of tourists came from a house that operates as an illegal guest house and absolutely everyone knows about it. Illegal business do not trouble themselves with visitors’ safety and environment regulation.
The question is: when is the law going to be enforced before someone is killed?