The pachyderms had damaged hundreds of houses and laid waste to paddy and vegetable crops on 500 acre in five panchayats of Nilgiri block then.
The jumbos have been migrating to Odisha for last four years, said forest officials. “I think they have come again due to insufficient of food and water in Dalama,” said DFO (wildlife), Balasore, Harshabardhan Udgata.
The tribal villagers are keeping traditional brew ‘handia’ and ‘mahuli’ in their houses. As these are to the liking of elephants, the pachyderms are targeting houses, he added.
The entry of jumbos has spread panic in villages under Jadibali panchayat of Nilgiri. “We are yet to get compensation for the crop loss last time. Even I have not repaired my damage houses. Again the marauding elephants have come back to wreak havoc,” said Maheswar Murmu of Jadibali vaillage.
Due to heat, villagers are sleeping under open sky and even cooking outside. “Now we are feeling unsafe,” said Basanti Pradhan of Ayodhya village.
Of the 23, four are tuskers. A team led by Nilgiri range officer Laxman Pradhan has been deployed to keep watch on the large animals.