Balasore: A herd of 34 elephants has been on the rampage at Nilagiri in Balasore district since the last three days.
According to sources, the elephants entered Jadibali forest from the one near Gopalpur on Thursday night through Tegaladhi and Hatimunda villages. Tension prevailed in these affected villages as the pachyderm destroyed crops enroute.
This has been a trend for the past few years with herds of elephant raiding human settlements during the harvest season. They stepped in a month earlier this year and locals attributed it to inadequate food resources in forests.
On the other hand, all efforts of the Forest Department to drive away the herd have no far reaped no results.
Notably, a herd of 32 elephants, including two calves, was spotted near Gopalpur of Nilagiri in Balasore district three days ago. Panic gripped the locals of Bhaurianbad panchayat in Nilagiri with the rampaging jumbos destroying standing crop in the area.
According to sources, the herd had strayed into Odisha from Dalma forest in Jharkhand and reached the forest areas near Gopalpur.
The Forest Department has alerted the locals and been keeping a close watch on its movement.
“The elephants are damaging our crop. We are sacred to go out or let our livestock to graze in the open,” said Nrusingha Biswal, a villager.
Nilagiri Ranger Sukumar Das had also confirmed the presence of the elephant herd near human settlements. “Night patrolling is being conducted. The elephants are now in Gopalpur forest. The villagers have been alerted and they are cooperating with us. Efforts are on drive them away from human habitations,” he said.