ROURKELA/BARIPADA: A 45-year-old woman was killed by a tusker in Kulba village under Ujjalpur range of Sundargarh forest division on Thursday. She was identified as Renuka Sahu. The incident comes close on the heels of death of an elderly woman who was trampled by an elephant in Kulba six days back.
In less than 10 months, Sundargarh district has reported 13 deaths due to elephant attacks with five taking place in a month. Sources said Sundargarh division has reported three deaths between September 26 and October 20, all in Ujjalpur range. Barsuan range of Bonai division and Rajgangpur of Rourkela division each recorded one death on September 15 and 26 respectively.
The string of human casualties and rise in incidents of elephant depredation have sparked resentment among local villagers. A fortnight back, villagers of Bonai block had manhandled forest employees demanding shifting of two tuskers from the area.
Villagers of Ujjalpur range said fearing for their lives, they have stopped going out in the night. Staying at home is also not safe as wild elephants frequently attack mud houses in search of food. In second week of September, angry villagers had brutally killed an adult elephant in Banki range of Rourkela forest division.
Rourkela DFO Yeswant Sethi said currently, at least 77 elephants are present at two locations in Panposh and Rajgangpur ranges along with Birmitrapur, Kuanrmunda and K Balang areas. Forest staff are continuously tracking the movement of the elephants to prevent loss of human lives and property.
In Mayurbhanj district, villagers of Rasgovindpur and Betnoti ranges under Baripada territorial division are spending sleepless nights due to the presence of a herd of 60 elephants. After straying out of Kuldiha sanctuary in Jharkhand, the herd has been wreaking havoc in both the ranges for the last couple of days.
Betnoti range officer Ghanashyam Singh said the elephant herd was seen roaming in Nadpur forest on Friday. Officials of the Energy department have been asked to disconnect power supply in the area where the elephants are present. Forest personnel with help of 20 Gajasathis and local villagers are monitoring the movement of the herd. Residents have been advised not to stock mahua flowers in their houses.