ROURKELA: Forest officials of Rourkela Forest Division (RFD) will now use chilli powder to keep elephants away from human habitations in Sundargarh district. Elephant attacks have increased in the district. A week back, jumbos had attacked a house in Kuanrmunda range and killed a woman Samari Pradhan (35) and her six-year-old son Shatrughan. Six persons have died in elephant attacked under RFD in the last seven months.
The RFD authorities have roped in wildlife expert Rudraditya and his team to carry out a 10-day sensitisation drive for villagers and field-level forest staff on chilli techniques to keep elephants at bay. Elephants are intolerant to the pungent aroma of chilli. Assistant Conservator of Forest J K Mohanty said field-level forest employees and villagers of vulnerable pockets in Kuanrmunda, Birmitrapur, Bisra and Panposh ranges are currently being educated on chilli techniques and in the next phase, Rajgangpur and Banki ranges would be covered.
Villagers are being trained on generating chilli smoke using fire torches outside their houses during night. Another technique is to prepare dung briquettes with chilli powder that would be kept in areas used for storing food grains, while the third technique is to erect chilli-based fencing, which involves hanging of jute bags immersed in grease and chilli powder.
Rourkela DFO Sanjeet Kumar said the effort is aimed at arming the villagers with techniques to fight elephant menace on their own and reduce dependency on Forest department.
About 30 to 35 elephants are still present in areas of Birmitrapur, Bisra, Banki and Kuanrmunda ranges.