BALASORE (ODISHA): A herd of 70-odd elephants, which was trying to enter Mayurbhanj forests as part of their annual sojourn, were chased away by the horses.
Used for the first time in the state, the horses are still deployed as the officials expect the herd may return soon. Earlier, with the help of experts from Himachal Pradesh, they had used a unique kind of fencing with the help of chilli powder, burnt engine oil and plastic mats to chase the elephant herd but that did not yield desired results.
Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF) B B Swain said each horses have been engaged in three forest ranges in the district for the first time to drive out pachyderms. “The horses along with their trainers are kept ready at the entry points. According to experts, the neigh, smell of stool and urine of male horses irritate elephants. As other method failed to prevent their entry, this time we have adopted this idea,” he said.
While four horses have been taken on a monthly rent of Rs 30,000 from West Bengal, two others have been arranged locally.
The forest officials also pay for their fodder and wages to their trainers.
Divisional Forest Officer of Baripada Sanjay Kumar Swain said the idea of deploying horses may be extended to other forest ranges of the state which have been suffering from frequent elephant expeditions. “Apart from the horses, forest guards and trained elephant driving squad have also been engaged to chase the jumbos. People have been advised not to irritate elephants to avoid counter-attacks and keep away intoxicating substances, which attract the jumbos,” he added.
Official sources said wild elephants have killed more than 20 persons and damaged over 600 houses in both the districts besides crops in over 1,500 hectares and properties worth a few crores of rupees in the last five years. Though the government compensates the victims, they alleged it is less compared to quantum of destruction.