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Wild elephant kills man in Kerala; Rs 10 lakh compensation announced

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Pathanamthitta (Kerala), Apr 1 (PTI) A 53-year-old man was attacked and killed by a wild elephant when he tried to chase it away after it strayed into the surroundings of his house near the forest in Thulappally here on Monday, police said.

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This is the fifth death reported in the conflict between humans and wild elephants in Kerala in the past three months.

Biju, a local auto driver, came out of his house with his wife Daisy after hearing the trumpets of an elephant outside. The animal grabbed him using its trunk and threw him to the ground twice, said Daisy, an eye witness.

The same elephant had strayed into the area and wreaked havoc here the other day, she claimed.

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Recounting the incident, Daisy said that the animal was seen trying to uproot a coconut tree in the surrounding area and moved towards him quickly after trumpeting multiple times and added that she stepped back and moved inside her house.

"We went out together, hearing the sounds of the elephant near our home early in the morning. The first time, we came back home together. But he went to the road near the house again as the elephant was trumpeting," Daisy told reporters here.

The teary-eyed woman said the animal rushed towards Biju suddenly and grabbed him by its trunk, throwing him to the ground twice.

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It later ran away into the forest, she said.

"As there was no response, I went to the spot and saw him lying motionless on the floor," Daisy added. A police team rushed to the spot and shifted Biju's body to Kottayam Medical College.

Later in the day, Health Minister Veena George visited Biju's house and consoled his family members. She assured them that the government would provide adequate compensation to the family as quickly as possible.

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Local residents staged an intense protest in the area, demanding compensation for the victim's family and a job for a family member as a permanent solution to address the loss they suffered due to the wild elephant attack.

In a discussion held between people's representatives and district and forest officials, a compensation of Rs 10 lakh was decided to be handed over to the deceased man's family today itself.

Lok Sabha MP Anto Antony who participated in the meeting, later told reporters that as per the decision taken during the meeting, the district collector would recommend the government to grant Rs 50 lakh to the family as compensation.

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"One of the family members of Biju will be given a temporary job at the forest office here immediately. The recommendation for a permanent job will be submitted to the government," he said.

A decision was also taken to erect solar fencing and trenches in the fringe areas bordering the forest and a decision would be implemented at the earliest in this regard, the MP added.

Kerala has witnessed a series of deaths of people due to the attack of wild elephants in recent months.

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A tribal woman was trampled to death by a wild elephant deep inside a forest area bordering Wayanad and Malappuram districts on March 28.

A forest watcher, 50-year-old Paul, was trampled to death by a wild elephant while he was on his way to work at Kuruva in Wayanad district on February 16.

A week before that, another Wayanad resident Aji (42), was trampled to death by a radio-collared elephant in Mananthavady in the district, triggering massive protests.

In January, an estate watcher, Lakshmanan (65) was killed by a wild tusker at Tholpetty, also in the same district.

In central Kerala's Idukki district, which is also heavily forested and mountainous, a woman identified as Indira Ramakrishnan was killed in an elephant attack in the first week of March.

Prajeesh (36) was mauled by a tiger in December last year near a forest area in Vakeri in Wayanad.

The Kerala government has been seeking to amend the Wildlife (Protection) Act, citing challenges faced by the state in dealing with instances of wild animals encroaching into human settlements. PTI LGK SDP

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