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Wildlife Woes: Wayanad’s Call for Action and Accountability

Over the past four months, five individuals have succumbed to wildlife attacks in Wayanad, the verdant forest enclave of Kerala. The disconcerting presence of tigers, elephants, sloth bears, and musk deer in the region has heightened concerns. 

The recent demises of Paul and Ajeesh have reverberated across the nation, leaving both the populace and authorities deeply unsettled. The demonstration in Wayanad, featuring Paul’s body, emerged as a consequence of these lamentable incidents. 

The government has announced compensation of 5 lakh INR to the families of the victims. However, people have expressed their dissatisfaction with the meager compensation. 

In the more forested and border districts of Idukki, Palakkad, and Wayanad, such incidents have become a regular occurrence, but the alternatives put forward by the government to prevent them are not being implemented.

India has a Forest and Wildlife Protection Act, which is unparalleled globally. The Forest and Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, enacted by the Indira Gandhi government, is yet to undergo amendments. 

The ruling party asserts that the state’s capacity to make decisions on such matters is restricted. In the resolution presented on January 14, the details of 620 crore INR were outlined. There have been three fatalities in Wayanad within an 18-day period. 

Serious allegations have been made that MP Rahul Gandhi did not attend the meeting convened by the state government or raise the issue in Parliament.

Wildlife researcher S. Guruvayurappan responded to a media debate on this issue by stating that the rise in the number of tigers and elephants is not the sole reason for their encroachment but rather the increase in cash crops within the forests.

Although he did not present specific suggestions for addressing this concern, he cautioned that, in the days ahead, the heat would persist in infiltrating the inhabited clouds. 

He opposed the proposal of the Kerala Independent Farmers Association (KIFA) to kill wild animals that enter forest areas and advocated for their relocation from Wayanad. With a population of only 8.5 lakhs, more than thirty percent of the area in Wayanad is a forested hilly land that shares borders with Tamil Nadu and Karnataka districts.

The absence of a medical college with adequate treatment also diminishes the chances of survival for those injured in the attack. Paul's daughter, who passed away on February 14, has alleged that her father died due to a delay in receiving proper treatment. Between 2016 and 2022, 909 people were killed by wild animals in Kerala alone.

Most of the deaths were reported from Wayanad, with 7,492 people injured in the attacks. Crops worth 68.5 crore INR have been damaged, and the number of people compensated is also low, with more than 1,500 individuals injured. 

Despite the administrative control of the forests in Kerala, the government has been unable to find a solution to the woes of the people in Wayanad. According to the Forest Survey of India 2019, Kerala has 823 sq.km of forest cover, which has increased.

The allegations that there are more animals than can be killed in the forest can only be clarified through an accurate count of wild animals and comprehensive scientific studies. Only with this information can the system move forward. 

Forest Minister A. K. Saseendran has not visited Wayanad, despite being the minister in charge of the region. However, Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi and Governor Arif Khan have visited the houses of those killed in the wildlife attack and offered help.


When people accuse the forest department of not taking the necessary precautions in the recent two deaths or the state government of not being successful in managing wildlife incursions, our discussions should encompass not only assigning blame for the past incidents but also focusing on precautions to prevent further casualties. 

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