There seems to be no end to the man-elephant conflict in this part of the State. With deceasing forest cover, elephants are time and again entering human habitations in Sundargarh district resulting in damage to properties and human casualties.
On Tuesday, a herd of 11 elephants raided the Kacharu High School in Kuanrmunda block. At around 2.30 am, the elephants reached the school in search of food, broke open the door of the store room and feasted on food grains that were kept for mid-day meal programme.
Rourkela DFO Sanjeet Kumar said it was the same herd which had entered Kuanrmunda forest range three years back and Rourkela city in July this year.
Although efforts were made by the forest officials to drive away the animals to Saranda forest in adjacent Jharkhand, it proved futile. Within six months, the animals returned to the same area where they had settled in 2010 after straying from Jharkhand forest.
The herd was recently sent back to south Chirubera forest of the district bordering Jharkhand, but the animals returned.
Sources said elephants easily get acquainted with the route they use and this was why, the herd returned to the same area.
The DFO said they were worried about the behaviour of the herd and were taking necessary steps to keep the animals at a safe distance from human habitation.
For the past three years, they have been entering human habitation both in rural and urban areas. Last year, the forest division had to dole out compensation of above ` one crore which was the highest in any forest division of the State.
The DFO said awareness is being created among people about the reasons behind elephant attacks and a long-term solution worked out.