Bhubaneswar, August 11 (LocalWire): Herds of elephants from Jharkhand and Similipal Tiger Reserve have entered the forested areas of Keonjhar district in the past 24 hours, much to the worry of forest-side villagers.
As many as 151 elephants including tuskers have been sighted in dense forest areas of Champua, Joda, Barbil and Ghatagaon forest range.
Since the Keonjhar forest division is home to 47 elephants as per the census conducted earlier this year, it is believed the elephants have strayed from Jharkhand and Similipal.
So far there has been no damage to life or property.
The itinerant animals seem to have taken a liking towards Keonjhar forest since it is replete with fruit-bearing trees like jackfruit and vast stretches of farmlands also entice the animals.
Besides, the pachyderms seem to be also attracted by the aromatic smell of the traditional ‘handia’ brew and some seem to be addicted towards the local brew, said forest officials.
Deforestation in Jharkhand has led to shrinking of the elephant habitat and the animals are not finding it congenial to live.
As a result, they are migrating to neighbouring Champua forest in search of food and water.
But the elephants in Similipal Tiger Reserve in Mayurbhanj seem to be migrating to Keonjhar as they are finding the forest areas similar to their original habitation corridors, they said.
The forest department has warned villagers not to venture into elephant-infested forest areas.
They have been told to stay alert on possible animal intrusion and promptly bring it to the notice of the forest personnel.
The skilled group of elephant chasers are keeping round-the-clock vigil with the global positioning system tracking teams keeping an eye on the movement of these elephants,
The forest department has taken up a slew of measures to curb man-animal conflict.
Elephant-chaser squads comprising 209 contractual employees have been constituted to track the migratory path of the animals.