It’s a jumbo-size problem for foresters of Sambalpur district.
Seventeen elephants have strayed out of their habitats and sneaked into Bohidar Nuakanta and Gudesingha villages under Sambalpur Sadar police limits.
The animals were sighted by villagers in the wee hours of Saturday. They have damaged large tracts of crop lands hitting the farmers hard.
Efforts to chase them away did not bear fruit.
The Forest Ranger of Sambalpur Sadar, Madanlal Sharma, said the villages are located along the elephant corridor from Rengali-Badrama wildlife sanctuary. However, he said they could have strayed from their corridor and entered the villages.
Sources said change in the features of the corridor due to industrialisation has been resulting in confusion among the elephants forcing them to stray from their habitations.
It is learnt that the elephants moved from Badrama wildlife sanctuary in Sambalpur to Sundargarh and back to Badrama sanctuary through Rengali block in Sambalpur and Kolabira in Jharsuguda.
But with industries being set up in their corridors they are able to trace their way till Rengali before retreating, leaving the farmers in the lurch.
On the other hand, at least 70 elephants have strayed into the Rengali forest range from the neighbouring Bamra wildlife division in search of fodder.
They ravaged standing paddy crops over 500 acres in villages of Luhakhandi, Kiraband, Junhadihi, Khindapada, Langbahal, Jhankarpali, Thapapali, Basupali, Chandnimal, Ghughar, Derva, Sarbapali, Ghichamura, Dehunra and Dharurpani.
This comes close on the heels of similar destruction in these villages in the first week of this month.