August 12, 2022
Munnar Padayappa, the favourite wild elephant in Munnar
Padayappa: Munnar's Favourite Wild Tusker
Padayappa began having a liking for human company but in the past many years he has been a regular presence in the town.
Despite his intimidating size, Padayappa is known to be a gentle giant and has hardly any history of violence. The only exemption was an incident a few years ago when he went on a rampage near the Mattupetty boat landing, destroying several vehicles. He was reportedly angered after a vehicle passed too close to him. But he did not turn on humans.
Even now when Padayappa becomes angry, he has a habit of just squatting in the middle of the road, sometimes for hours, blocking traffic. The only other so-called nuisance this giant creates is for street hawkers and food vendors because he has developed a taste for cooked food. Since he is a regular visitor in Munnar, locals, and tourists who were initially scared of the tusker have become used to him and will offer him fruits, which he happily accepts. Though he has been photographed and filmed any number of times, Padayappa is apparently camera shy. In June 2019 there was an incident when a group of tourists got too close to him trying to click selfies.
The tusker did not like this and charged at them. While the tourist escaped unhurt, Padayappa who was already nursing an injury, presumably suffered during a fight with another tusker, disappeared into the wild for a long time.
During the lockdown, recently Padayappa was spotted across Munnar several times, often loitering in the empty streets. In the several videos that have been posted online people can be heard calling his name out loud from distance.
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