Wilds are always a tourist’s delight, and even more for a trekker, birdwatcher or photographer. But, how safe are our wildlife sanctuaries and reserved forests, the abode of a host of wild animals ranging from elephants to bears, leopards, tigers, snakes, and many more. Human safety in wildlife surroundings has emerged as a matter of concern, of late, in Kerala in the backdrop of some tragic incidents of a few hapless tourists losing their lives in encounters with wild animals, mainly elephants.
A middle-aged couple from Ahmedabad was trampled to death by a heard of wild elephants in Kerala’s Periyar Tiger Reserve recently. Bhupendra B Ravel (52) and his wife Jagriti (50) were killed by the elephant while they tried to photograph it during a trek in the Gavi forest region in the Tiger Reserve. The camera flash is said to have provoked the elephant. The couple, accompanied by a forest tour guide, was on a trekking trip organised by the Kerala Forest Development Corporation.
Gavi, close to the Sabarimala temple, is a deep forest and has in the past few years emerged as a key centre for tourists interested in wildlife and trekking. Since there are a lot of wildlife, including tigers and elephants in Gavi, there are restrictions on visitors, and trekking is allowed only on the package run by the state-owned Kerala Forest Development Corporation, which arranges accommodation and other facilities for visitors within the forest. In yet another incident, about two months ago, a woman tourist from Gujarat was trampled to death by a tamed elephant at Thekkady, located in the same wildlife sanctuary. The young woman was killed in front of her husband and young son while taking a ‘selfie’ along with the elephant after a ride on the elephant.
(Read the full article from the February issue of the Safety Messenger Magazine)