The Sitampeta agency mandal of Srikakulam district is famous of its pineapple and mango crop among other seasonal fruits like jack-fruit. The district’s Kottur range forest section officer M Tirupathi Rao, who has been following the movement of the tuskers, said, “Water scarcity has affected the agency and forest areas severely. Frequent power cuts have also been reported. The darkness coupled with other factors have led to elephants entering the nearby villages at night.”
“Elephants can smell a water body as far as 800 metres and will keep walking till they find it. The same happened in the case of these four tuskers that were traced on Friday at a giant teak plantation at Bagga between Sitampeta and Kottur,” Rao said.
“The elephants will keep coming back till there is sufficient rainfall in the forest. I will personally visit the spot on Saturday to check the condition and the availability of the water and food,” Srikakulam district forest officer in-charge Lohitaswadu told TOI.
He also said a patrolling team has been set up in the forest area to study the movement of the tuskers to help both the forest department as well as the villagers receive advance information about the movement of the pachyderms. “The information can play a key role in preventing damages to crops and human attacks,” Lohitaswadu added. The patrolling team consists of four to five men who are mostly tribals well equipped for the task, he said.
According to forest department sources, the Union government was yet to take a decision regarding a request by the department for a sanction of Rs 50 crore to take requisite measures for protecting wild animals by taking up solar fencing, lighting and digging of artificial water bodies in the forests.