DHENKANAL: The safety of jumbos in the State still remains a matter of grave concern as a seven-year-old elephant fell into an open well at Mahidharpur village in Sadar forest range here on Friday. Around 400 open wells in the district have turned into danger zones for elephants.
According to sources, the calf strayed into the village on Thursday night and fell into the abandoned well. The villagers noticed the elephant struggling to get out of the deep well on Friday morning and informed the forest officials, who rushed to the spot and rescued it following a two-hour operation.
Locals alleged that elephants are straying into the village for food at night and fall into abandoned wells due to darkness. It is mostly calves, separated from the herd, which fall in these abandoned wells. The jumbos also sometimes fall into the wells while trying to drink water, they said and demanded that open wells be barricaded in the district.
Last year, the Forest department had identified 400 open wells to erect fences or increase the height of the guard walls in the district. Accordingly, the State Government had released funds for the work and but only 160 wells have been barricaded so far.
As per reports, there are more than 10 open wells in Gadasila section of Sadar forest range which has a good number of elephants. Most of the times, a herd of 50 to 60 elephants roam in the nearby villages and cross the National Highway. But these animals face a grave danger due to the abandoned wells.
A week ago, the death of seven elephants due to electrocution after coming in contact with the low-hanging wire in Dhenkanal had shocked the State and had raised questions over the safety of the animals.
DFO Sudarshan Patra said fencing work is going on and so far 160 open wells have been barricaded. While the department spends `5,000-`6,000 per well for fencing, work will be completed soon. This apart, craters created by farmers also pose a threat to elephants at several places, he added.
Villagers of Gadasila, Siminai, Kasiadihi, Balrampur, Gunudei and Sadasivpur in Odapada block submitted a memorandum to the DFO on Thursday demanding protection of their farmlands from elephant attacks.