One person was reportedly killed by a herd of wild elephants that has moved into Choudwar town even as one of them strayed and swam river Mahanadi to almost enter Cuttack city on Wednesday.
The victim, identified as Hemant Nayak (33), was on his way to work early on Wednesday when the herd attacked him near the BILT Paper Mill at Choudwar. The herd of around 11 jumbos camped inside the paper mill campus.
Nayak was chased by a sole elephant and knocked over. He was rushed to the SCB Medical College and Hospital where he succumbed to injuries.
Meanwhile, an adult pachyderm strayed off and came close to Cuttack city by swimming the entire width of the Mahanadi. He had reportedly separated from the herd near Dhabaleswar Ghat. He was spotted by locals near Hadiapatha near Munda Sahi triggering panic in the area.
On being informed, the Forest officials rushed to the spot. But by the time they reached, the elephant had swum to another islet. It was hidden in the vegetation forcing the Forest personnel to stay guard in a bid to prevent him from entering the city and guiding him back to the forest.
DFO, Cuttack Sudarshan Behera said the herd had become a regular visitor to Choudwar area for over a month now. They have been moving out of Athgarh jungle and coming to the BILT Paper Mill campus through Dhabaleswar.
The Forest officials are in a quandary as the jumbo herd has moved out of the Paper Mill campus and was spotted near Banipada village under Choudwar police limits by Wednesday evening while the lone pachyderm is stuck in the islet.
“With the group making its way, guiding the stranded one is a difficult proposition. Elephants move in a group and if we attempt to chase a solitary animal, it may run amok. We are trying to develop a plan for its safe passage and union with the herd,” Behera said.
However, the DFO’s worries are far from over with a group of 12 elephants approaching from Bairee side while another herd is on its way from Tomka forest.