Panic gripped Batapalasa panchayat in Karanjia area of Mayurbhanj district on Friday after a wild elephant trampled a person to death. The deceased has been identified as Ramesh Lohar (45) of Baniajoti village.
Villagers said a herd of 17 elephants strayed into the area a couple of days back and destroyed 14 houses besides consuming paddy, ‘handia’ (a local brew) and destroying banana orchards in Karanjia NAC, Mandua, Kadadiha and Machhagada villages.
With the villagers stocking ‘handia’ and ‘mahuli’ in their houses, elephants have been raiding their houses in search of these items and after consuming it, the animals in an inebriated state wreaking havoc.
DFO Ashish Kumar Behera said Ramesh was attacked by the elephant while he was trying to drive them out of the village with the other villagers. He died on the spot. The elephant herd encircled and guarded Ramesh’s body for hours together till they were chased again.
The herd comprised tuskers from Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) and had strayed into the hillside villages destroying houses, crop fields and orchards for last one week.
The herd is hiding in Deuria forest during the day and entering human habitations after evening, said Behera.
“The elephants are raiding the houses only to have handia. Despite our warning, villagers continue to stock the intoxicating substances in their houses which attracts the elephants,” the DFO said adding that the forest officials have been engaged in driving them away from the villages.
Meanwhile, affected villagers have demanded compensation for the bereaved family. Receiving the information, local MLA, Tehsildar and forest officials rushed to spot to take stock of the situation.
They appealed to the villagers to cooperate with the forest officials to drive away the elephants.
Forest officials assured that the bereaved family will be provided compensation as per the government guidelines.
At least 17 persons including seven women have been killed in the elephant attacks in the past 10 years, while paddy crop in hundreds of acres of land has been ravaged in Karanjia division.