Bhubaneswar, Sept 4 (LocalWire): For the officials of Karanjia forest division in Mayurbhanj, it’s a predicament of elephantine proportions.
The villages here are largely free from destruction caused by elephants.
But of late, a herd of 22 elephants led by five tuskers from Jayanti reserve forest, Jharkhand, have strayed into the cluster of forest-side villages in Mayurbhanj district, triggering terror.
People here, eager to catch a glimpse of these national heritage animals, crowd as pachyderms sneak into agriculture fields and orchards near the forest cover.
There are reports of people teasing and provoking the animals by pelting stones to disperse them. Some of them move close to take photographs.
In the process, they are risking their lives, divisional forest officer, Prasanna Kumar Behera, told LocalWire.
Elephants don’t often stray in the Karanjia forest areas. So, these animals have attracted curious crowds but by teasing and taunting the animals, they are inviting trouble for them, Behera said.
‘The herd strayed into villages and damaged six houses. So we have warned people by asking them not indulge in such acts which are punishable under wildlife protection act,’ the official said.
The elephant habitat in Jharkhand has shrunk following deforestation and the straying of elephants from the neighbouring state is a recurring feature in other parts of Mayurbhanj district.
Elephants stray into Odisha as dense forest cover in Mayurbhanj is enriched with fruit-bearing trees like mangoes and jackfruits besides standing crops and vegetable cultivation in the village areas.
Apart from Mayurbhanj, the elephants from Jharkhand also stray into forest areas of Keonjhar and Balasore districts, said senior officials of forest department.
‘As per rule, we are not authorized to chase the animals back to their original habitation corridors.
Disturbing these protected animals is an infringement of law.
Therefore, we keep track with the help of skilled service group of elephant chasers.
GPS tracking teams spot the movement of these elephants in Karanjia forest division.
As per their behavioural instinct, they will leave these areas on their own accord,’ Behera explained.