Bhubaneswar, July 17 (LocalWire): Strange are the ways of men, they say but stranger are the ways of jumbos, say residents of Odisha’s forest-side villages that fall in the elephants’ habitation corridor.
Of late, the pachyderms stray into villages lured by the smell of country-made liquor.
Conservationists and wildlife personnel have come across several cases of these itinerant animals striding into human settlement to taste illegally-brewed country liquor.
Elephant depredation has become a major cause of worry across 44 forest divisions in the state with elephants killing as many as 369 humans and injuring over 200 more since the last four years.
‘People are inviting trouble for themselves by brewing traditional ‘handia,’ a local brew prepared by the tribal settlers after fermenting rice.
Herds of elephants including tuskers are straying into human habitation and getting intoxicatedby the ‘handia’ and later unleashing a reign of terror.
Apart from killing people, they also damage houses and ravage croplands,’ said Ghanashyam Behera, Forest Range Officer, Champua range in Keonjhar district.
‘We have encountered cases of elephants, mainly tuskers, going berserk after the gulping handia and after getting addicted to the brew they prolong their stay.
It takes hours for elephant tracking and chasing squads to drive the animals back to their habitation corridors.
Such cases of country-liquor-induced elephant depredation have been reported in Daanla, Bairugudisahi, Khajurimundi, Rangadihi and Nilambarpur villages,’ the forest official added.
It often becomes difficult to drive away the elephants because of its violent behavioural instinct.
The forest department is sensitizing people to give up brewing handiaas it is triggering loss of life, property and crops, said forest officials.
‘The forest department has urged excise and police personnel to put to end to illicit liquor brewing in forest-side villages,’ divisional forest officer, Anandpur Forest Division, Ajit Kumar Satpathy said.