Keonjhar, July 9 (LocalWire): In the latest outbreak of man-elephant conflict, a wild elephant gored a tribal man to death in a forest-side village while a herd has triggered reign of terror in another human settlement in Odisha’s Keonjhar district.
A tusker trampled a tribal man in Daanla village under Bhuian Juanga Peedha (BJP) forest range while a herd of 22 elephants headed by at least three tuskers has strayed into Ranganijharana village lying close to Champua forest range.
The animals have destroyed at least four houses and ravaged the agriculture fields since early morning hours on Tuesday.
The animals left their habitation corridor of Similipal tiger reserve and traversed through over 100 kilometers of hilly terrains and dense forest to stray into the reserve forest near the village.
According to reports, they intruded into the reserve forest yesterday and strayed into human habitation during the wee hours today.
The panicked locals tried to chase the elephants by beating drums and bursting crackers but the animals continued to play hide and seek with them, first heading towards the forest and later reappearing in the village.
The village is home to about 2,000 residents, Champua forest range officer Ghanashyam Barik informed adding that the animals are being driven back to the forest by a skilled group of forest personnel who are experts in chasing elephants.
The elephants attracted by ripe mangoes in the forest and village orchards strayed into the area, the officer said.
A group of over 30 skilled elephant chasers is keeping round the clock watch on these animals while the global positioning system (GPS) tracking teams have spotted the movement of these elephants close to human habitation areas.
Elephants have mostly trampled the paddy plants, vegetable plants, and banana plantations and seem to have taken a liking towards the rich green cover in the forest and neighbouring villages.
The elephants are not territorial and migrate long distances. Last month, elephants from far off Jharkhand state had intruded into forested areas of Keojhar forest division.
Odisha, which houses 70% of the total elephant population in eastern India, has been witnessing deteriorating human-elephant conflict with elephant depredation spreading to 26 out of 30 districts of the state.
“The wild animals wander villages searching for food due to shrinking habitats. The protected parks and wildlife sanctuaries conferred habitation corridors of the elephants, face the onslaught of massive encroachment from people who live and forage or graze cattle in the forests. The human interference of this nature is giving rise to frequent man-pachyderm confrontation,” wildlife activist Biswajit Mohanty said.