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Tribal settlement’s Isolation keeps Covid-19 away

A Cholanayaka tribe member (Pic: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The two waves of Covid-19 pandemic in the country, in fact the world, has left the Parappanpara settlement under the Moopainad panchayat in Wayanad district, untouched. Neither the first round nor the ongoing second pandemic has left a mark on them.

Talking to the New Indian Express, Raghu, a native of Parappanpara, said: “We have been under quarantine 24×7 for decades, even before the advent of the coronavirus.”

Hitting the nail on the head, he precisely pinpoints at the extreme disconnected life of the community which has been in place for centuries.

Raghu is a 29-year-old among the 60 Cholanayaka people, who are residing in this tribal settlement in Wayanad district.

While the Wayanad has had 4,318 positive cases in the second wave among its tribal population, 1,575 of whom are active, the Parappanpara settlement has had no cases.

The Cholanayakas come in the category of the Primitive Vulnerable Tribal Group, and remain entirely cut-off from the others and live in harmony with nature inside the forest.

Again stating aptly to the media, Raghu says, "Let alone Covid, I don't remember anyone from among us going to a hospital for treatment. We have our own herbal medicine in the forest. In fact, flu is our biggest disease.”

Talking about this isolation, the Integrated Tribal Development Project district officer A C Cheriyan, remarks that the Cholanayakas do not want to come out of the forest nor do they like anyone intruding into their lives.

"They are leading a contented and healthy life. Even deliveries happen inside the hamlet. They feed on tubular crops, vegetable cultivation and fish in the Chaliyar river. Once in a month or so, they come out of the forest to the uphill Kadachikkunnu to sell the honey collected and to take the ration provided by the government," he told the New Indian Express.

What is interesting is that no human-wild casualty has been reported from Parappanpara either.

Rajesh K, the secretary of the District Legal Services Authority observes: "Wild jumbos destroy their huts frequently. When the forest department built a water tank for Cholanayakas, the pachyderms shattered it the very next day. Yet, neither the tribe nor the elephants treat the other as an enemy. They co-exist.”

According to the local ward member Yasodha Chandran two of the Cholanayakas have been administered the first dose of the Covid vaccine and they are planning an exclusive vaccination camp soon.