ROURKELA: The presence of a herd of 10 elephants in Kalunga, bordering Rourkela city, and death of a man after being trampled by an elephant from another herd on Sunday night has sparked panic among the locals. Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF), Rourkela, Dilip Sahu said the herd of 10 elephants including four calf, had recently moved from Bamra forest of Sambalpur district.
The elephants were taking the forest route of Rajgangpur range on Sunday night when they stopped at an urban plantation area of Kalunga under Kuanrmunda range from Monday morning. By Monday evening the herd tried to move towards residential area of Kalunga, but forest employees pushed the herd back to the plantation. The ACF said efforts were underway to guide the elephants towards Rudukupedi forest.
A forest official confided that during the drive in Rajgangpur on Sunday night the herd was erratically pushed towards Kalunga and by 7.30 pm on Monday, efforts were taken to send back the elephants to adjacent forest.Rajgangpur Range Officer CS Gadnayak said a farmer Gobardhan Lakra (50) was trampled to death on Sunday night in Kendukudar forest near Sonakhan.
The man had put up in the field and was guarding his standing crops when the incident occurred, adding it was a different herd of 8 to 10 elephants. With this death, the total elephant-related human casualties under Rourkela Forest Division limits has risen to 14 in the last 10 months.In 2016, elephant herds had intruded IDL campus on a few occasions, but after installation of solar fencing elephant intrusion was curbed.
In 2014, an elephant herd had stayed at sub-urban Vedvyas area near Vedvyas temple complex for 48 hours. In 2013, a herd of 11 elephants had entered the heart of Rourkela city and was confined to Birsa Munda stadium, while few months later elephants had entered the Sector-20 area of Rourkela Steel Plant.