BARIPADA: A herd of elephants that had sneaked into Rashgobindpur in Baripada wildlife range from Dalma sanctuary in Jharkhand recently has been giving sleepless nights to residents of around 40 villages nearby. The herd comprising 35 elephants entered Morada and remained at Ashanbani forest a day after it reached Phuljhari forest near Nadpur village.
It destroyed standing paddy crop on several hectares of farmland. Betnoti forest ranger Ghanshyam Singh said farmers of 40 villages have been affected after the elephants damaged crops on their fields. Another herd from Jharkhand had caused havoc in the villages before proceeding towards Nilagiri sanctuary in Balasore district.
They caused further damage at the fields while returning to Dalma sanctuary. Singh said as many as 40 forest personnel of Betnoti, Pithabata, Dukura and Deuli ranges along with an elephant squad have been deployed to keep a watch on the movement of the elephants.
The villagers have been asked not to obstruct the herd’s movement as any deviation in their route can result in more damage to crops. Sources said a 4.5 km long trench is being dug near Badampur village to prevent the elephants from entering human habitation. “Assessment of crop damage has not yet been done as the herd is yet to leave the range,” the forest ranger added.