BARIPADA: The weekly market at Badguma under Betnoti forest range had a jumbo visitor on Friday afternoon. Needless to say, people panicked and business was suspended.After the tusker sneaked into the market at around 5.30 pm, traders downed shutters and ran for cover. Business remained off for several hours after the guest from the wild showed up.
Forest personnel reached the market and advised locals not to tease the animal. The vegetable vendors were told to maintain a safe distance. After ‘surveying’ the market for some time, the gentle giant left without any damage or trouble.
Betnoti ranger Ghanashyam Singh said the tusker was separated from an elephant herd that came from Dalma forest of Jharkhand. The elephant was roaming in forests of Betnoti since the last couple of days and the forest personnel were aware of its movements.
In the morning, the tusker was spotted near NH-18 adjacent to Jugal and Agria villages. Later in the afternoon, it entered the weekly market. The elephant is on the move towards Baramba, Raikama and Rangada and the forest staff are keeping a close watch on its movement. Singh said the forest department has alerted electricity officials to disconnect power supply to the villages where the elephant is headed.
Three days back, another herd of 35 elephants sneaked into Betnoti range from Dalma forest after crossing the Odisha-West Bengal border and is now staying put near Baisinga.
Meanwhile, forest officials and residents of villages on the fringes of Kuldiha sanctuary in Balasore district organised a coordination meeting to discuss ways to check frequent depredation by elephants. Kuldiha ranger Bijay Mohapatra and residents of Mirigini, Dholpur and Chotkanpur villages participated in the meeting.