BERHAMPUR: Venturing near wild elephants can be dangerous but approaching a herd protecting a new born can be fatal. That’s what a group of people in Nuapalli village of Ganjam did and two of them, including a minor, paid with their lives on Sunday.
The lure to click pictures of wild elephants from close proximity proved fatal for them as they were trampled to death in North Ghumusar forest division. The deceased were identified as Sukuria Naik (60) and Ganesh Gouda, a minor, both from Nuapali village.
Sources said, a herd of 22 elephants including two tuskers entered Gallery forest range 10 days back. The
jumbos destroyed standing crop on farmlands and feasted on harvested paddy in nearby villages. On Sunday, a female elephant gave birth to a calf in a cashew plantation near Nuapali village. The entire herd was guarding the mother and the calf.
A local spotted the herd and spread the news. Soon residents of Nuapali and nearby villages thronged the cashew plantation to see the elephants. Forest personnel too reached the spot and urged the villagers not to get closer to the jumbos.
However, some villagers including the minor boy didn’t heed the warning and went closer to click photos of the elephants on their mobile phones. The elephants, which were calm until now, became agitated on seeing the villagers and suddenly, a tusker charged towards the gathering.
While people ran for their lives from the spot, Sukuria and Ganesh fell down. The tusker then trampled them.The forest personnel present there managed to rescue the two with much difficulty. However, Sukuria was found dead while the boy had sustained critical injuries.
He was rushed to Bhanjanagar hospital and later shifted to MKCG Medical College and Hospital. But he succumbed to injuries on way.“Elephants are very possessive about their calves and we have been cautioning the villagers against venturing close but they just don’t pay attention. It was unfortunate,” said a forest staff.Following the incident, more forest personnel have been deployed at the spot. Efforts are on to drive away the elephant herd to the forest.