BALASORE : Panic has gripped the villages close to Deuli and Suliapada forest range of Mayurbhanj district as a herd of over 70 wild elephants from Jharkhand and West Bengal sneaked into the areas on Tuesday.
The herd comprising 18 tuskers and 25 calves entered Odisha territory through Deuli range and then sneaked into Rasgobindpur forest after crossing nearly 20 km along Subarnarekha canal route. People were frightened as the elephants went on a damaging spree in more than 10 villages.
While paddy crop in nearly 20 acres was destroyed, four houses were damaged as the jumbos tried to devour stored foodgrain. Panic stricken residents came out of their homes and burnt tyres to protect their habitations. People were also seen running away from their houses to safety.
Sources said traffic was disrupted for several hours on Baripada-Rajghat road as the elephants were on their way to Betnoti range. The herd was last spotted marching towards Kuldiha sanctuary of Balasore and is expected to reach there within a day or two. Electricity supply has been snapped in the villages close to the elephant corridor apprehending electrocution of elephants.
The villagers alleged that a group of people from West Bengal chased the elephants towards Odisha instead of Jharkhand. It happened due to lack of coordination between the forest officials of both the States, they added. However, forest officials could not confirm whether the elephants were from Dalma sanctuary of Jharkhand or West Bengal.
ACF of Baripada division Binod Bihari Swain said, “We are not chasing the elephants. Forest guards have been asked to monitor their movement and warn people not to cause any harm to the pachyderms. We have to guard all along their path to minimise the loss.”