Visakhapatnam: The AP forest department has found a novel way of keeping elephants away from human habitations abutting the forest area in north coastal Andhra.
After failing to prevent the pachyderms from venturing into villages in Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts in the last nine years, the forest department has now turned its attention to cost-effective ‘Chilli Aromatic Technique’ or CAT to keep the jumbos away.
The novel technique was adopted in African countries, Thailand and Nepal with a high rate of success. The forest department has invited wildlife expert Rudraditya from Bangalore to use CAT in north coastal districts. Within the country, the technique was utilised in Assam, Kerala, Karnataka, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra.
An elephant herd has been causing trouble in the forests areas of Yeguva Gundam and Diguva Gundam, tribal hamlets of Kurupam mandal of Vizianagaram district, and Sankili and Seethampeta in Srikakulam district.
Vizianagaram district forest officer AV Ramana Murthy said the forest department will use CAT to drive away the jumbos from Andhra Pradesh to Odisha with the help of Rudraditya. The herd consists of four female elephants, aged between 20 and 30 years.
Murthy said gunny bags containing chillis are tied to a stick and placed on the boundary of villages. The strong smell of the chillis, which is felt up to a considerable distance, drives away animals, particularly elephants, leopards and boars. Rudraditya first tried this technique in 2003 in the vicinity of Kafue National Park in Zambia.
He said 11 elephants entered Vizianagaram district from Odisha in 2007. They then entered Srikakulam district. The forest department has unsuccessfully used several methods including translocation of the jumbos.
Meanwhile, four tuskers entered a bordering village and damaged 15 houses and fields on Sunday.