Balasore: A herd of 45 elephants from Dalma forest in Jharkhand entered Gopalpur reserve forest in Nilagiri range of Balasore district Monday wreaking havoc on their way.
Locals said that the elephants damaged the standing paddy crop in Rashagobindpur, Betnoti and Deuli ranges in Baripada territorial forest division. Damages to crops in several villages including Gopalpuolodihi, Hatimunda, Bayarsahi, Banabhuin and Ayodhya are extensive, locals claimed.
That said, no loss of life has been reported so far, forest officials said. Villagers in Nilagiri area, however, are spending sleepless nights over the elephant menace.
Balasore divisional forest officer (DFO) Biswaraj Panda said the herd entered Gopalpur reserve forest at around 4:30am and damaged the standing paddy crop en route. Forest officials of Nilagiri and Kuldiha along with Chandipur and Soro are keeping a close watch on the movement of the herd.
“Residents are being told by officials not to dry Mahua flowers and its produce at home to keep the herd away from their houses,” said Panda.
Besides, traditional methods like the beating of drum, usage of firecrackers and burning of tyres are also being adopted to keep the herd away from human habitation. Nilagiri sub-collector Harishchandra Jena, SDPO Amulya Dhar, Nilagiri tehsildar Shrusrita Tudu along with CESU officials was also present.