ROURKELA: While controlling the movement of herds of elephants and keeping them away from human habitations have long posed a challenge for the officials of the forest department, red chilli powder is increasingly being used to keep the jumbos at bay of late.
Forest officials are also organizing awareness campaigns in different villages explaining the dos and don’ts to locals during movement of the elephants. “Following the advice of the experts, we recently introduced the use of red chilli powder to prevent the elephants from straying into villages,” said J K Mohanty, assistant conservator of forests, Rourkela.
Red chilli powder spread on jute bags are dipped in burnt lubricant and hung in strategic locations, mainly at the possible entry points of jumbos to villages, Mohanty said. According to experts, elephants being allergic to red chilli get its whiff from a distance and turn away.
The new strategy, which was introduced on an experimental basis last year, had given satisfactory results, official sources said. Officials of forest department claimed that once the elephants are forced to retrace their steps two to three times, they automatically avoid that route.
This apart, various awareness programmes on how to deal with elephant menace are also being organized in different villages.
Considering the fact that elephants stray into villages mainly in search of food, the forest officials have also prepared a list of food items that they prefer and advised villagers not to store those items in their houses.
According to official sources, around 45 elephants in separate herds are seen in different locations of the district. Separate teams of forest officials have been closely monitoring their movements.
Official sources said a 12-member elephant herd, located at Raiboga of the district, was guided towards bordering Jharkhand on Sunday night.
A herd of five elephants, which had entered Kacharu gram panchayat under Kuanrmunda block of the district and killed two persons a couple of days back, has stayed put at Dhumaguda reserve forest. Similarly, another 25-30 elephants in three herds have been sighted in Banki forest range, K Bolang and Bimlagarh of the district, the source added.