A 24-hour control room was made functional on Monday at Baripada divisional forest office in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district to monitor the movement of a herd of wild elephants that sneaked into villages from adjoining West Bengal. Over 70 wild elephants, including five tuskers and several calves which came from Dalma sanctuary of Jharkhand through West Bengal, have caused panic in Bhatachhatar and Badasole villages of Moroda reserve forest area under Rasogovindapur forest range, said Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Baripada, Sanjay Kumar Swain.
However, no damage to human lives and habitats were reported so far. The jumbos have made extensive damage to the standing Khariff and maize crops in last two days since their arrival, added Swain. The forest personnel, along with the locals, were engaged in efforts to drive away the wild elephants with fireballs and bursting crackers without hurting them to make their way in to West Bengal, said Baripada DFO. The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Odisha was in contact with his counterpart in West Bengal and information was being shared, Swain said.
Every year wild elephants stray away from Jharkhand and start their sojourn to Nilagiri forest ares in Balasore district during October to January through an elephant corridor during which they cause large scale damage to human life and crops. But this year the jumbos arrived a month in advance thereby making the villagers and forest personnel to spend sleepless nights. Compensation to the tune of Rs 10,000 per acre would given to the victims of jumbo menace for damage caused to crops, the DFO said.