BHUBANESWAR: A herd of around 70 elephants from Jharkhand sneaked into the Odisha forests from Mayurbhanj side prompting the district administration to open a 24-hour control room at Baripada on Monday.
The herd which is camping Morada reserve forest in Rasgobindpur range has been wreaking havoc in Badasul and Bhatachhatar villages since Sunday. Though no human casualty is reported so far, the elephants have damaged standing paddy and maize crops in several acres.
As part of their annual sojourn the elephant herd comprising 12 calves and 6 tuskers from Dalma sanctuary has entered Mayurbhanj forests through their usual corridor in search of food after creating havoc in bordering districts of West Bengal.
Locals are scared as the marauding jumbos has been causing widespread damage to paddy and vegetable crops in more than 100 forest side villages in both Mayurbhanj and Balasore districts besides killing people for the past six years.
“We are spending sleepless nights after knowing that the herd is camping in the jungle close to our village. The residents are guarding their houses by burning timber logs in the night,” said a local Guruba Singh.
Forest officials have warned local residents not to chase the elephants which may turn violent if they are irritated by fire crackers. They have also been asked not to store any intoxicating substance like rice beer in their houses to keep the elephants away.
Baripada DFO Sanjay Swain said 120 forest personnel have been engaged in the border areas to monitor the movement of the elephant herd. They have been asked to prevent the entry of the pachyderms into the human habitations.
Since horse-shit keep the elephants away, the officials also have deployed two horses along the Morada border to stop the elephants from proceeding further. According to experts, the neigh, smell of stool and urine of male horses irritate elephants.
Last year the pachyderms had failed to enter Dukura, Betnoti and Rasgobindpur reserve forests as six male horses, two each, were deployed in these areas.
Meanwhile, a 24-hour control room has been opened at Baripada divisional forest office to monitor the movement of a herd of wild elephants and collect information from the people.
“The deployed forest staff will provide regular updates about the movement of the herd. We have taken every possible measure to prevent them from entering into human habitations,” Swain added.