BALASORE: Forest officials of Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts have now pinned their hopes on horses to drive away elephants straying into the area from neighbouring West Bengal and Jharkhand.
A herd of 70 elephants from Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary of Jharkhand has been spotted along the West Bengal border and was feared to enter Mayurbhanj forest through Rasgobindpur forest range Monday midnight. Six male horses have been deployed in Dukura, Betnoti and Rasgobindpur ranges in Mayurbhanj district to chase away the elephants.
Earlier, they had set up a fence laced with chilli powder, burnt mobil and plastic mats to drive away the herd with the help of experts from Himachal Pradesh, but that was of no help.
Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF), BB Swain said two horses each have been engaged in three forest ranges of the district to drive away pachyderms. According to the experts, the neigh, smell of stool and urine of male horses irritate the elephants.
While four horses have been brought on a monthly rent of Rs 30,000 from West Bengal, two have been arranged locally from Chengua-Mangalpur and Manatri. Besides the rent, forest officials will have to pay for their fodder and wages of their trainers.
Forest officials decided to resort to this measure after crackers prepared from cow dung, chilli powder and gun powder failed to prevent the animals from entering human habitations. Instead of running away, elephants get violent when the crackers are burst, Swain said.
“If the idea of deploying horses succeeds, it would be extended to other forest ranges in the State which have been witnessing elephant intrusion”, Swain added. Apart from horses, forest guards and trained elephant driving squads have been engaged in the job.
Elephants have damaged over 600 houses in both the districts, crops in more than 1500 hectares and property worth crores in the last five years. Though the State Government compensates the victims, the latter alleged that compensation amount is less in comparison to the quantum of destruction.