Keonjhar: A new birth is always a moment of rejoice. But it’s not so for people of a cluster of forest-side villages in Odisha’s Keonjhar district.
The birth of an elephant baby has left them in a state of panic.
With a female elephant giving birth to a calf, around 5000 people living on the fringes of Supapashi forest block in Keonjhar district are panicked a lot.
A herd of 23 elephants including two tuskers are keeping vigil on the baby. As the elephants are showing no signs of leaving the area, residents of five forest-side villagers are having sleepless nights in Saradapasi, Kodagadia, Sunapashi, Jaripada, Sridharpur, Rajia villages under Champua forest range of Keonjhar district.
Forest personnel have asked the villagers not to venture into forest as the watchful and vigilant herd might turn violent at human interference. The herd comprised of two tuskers, 13 females and eight calves. The villagers informed us of the newborn calf.
The elephant gave birth to the baby yesterday in the forest close to the village areas. The villagers informed us of the newborn calf. The elephants are not leaving the area and have virtually encircled the area to guard the baby. Our objective is to safeguard both the calf besides protecting the people from elephant menace, said Forest Range Officer, Champua Forest of Range, Ghanashyam Barik.
The elephant herd has strayed into Champua forest range from Similipal tiger reserve. These long-ranging animals migrate to Champua forest annual. The dense forest cover and the lush-green croplands in forest-side villages of Champua attack them to foray into these spot for its ample food reserve, the official said.
There is distinct possibility that the herd will remain firmly ensconced here for at least fortnight period. A wild elephant had given birth to a baby in Joda forest area about six months back. The herd had left the place after a fortnight with the baby being able to move freely. Till the calf attains mobility, the herd will stick to the place. The elephant herd is likely to be provoked at the sight of humans at where near to the calf. That’s why people have been advised to stop venturing into forest to collect fuel wood and minor forest.
A camp of 30 personnel from elephant squad has been stationed in the villages to prevent elephant depredation. The squad has been told not to burst fire crackers to disperse the animals as the noise may disturb the newborn. The disturbance of this nature may drive the elephant herd to go amuck, the official said.
We are living in a cursed land. The elephants have made our life miserable. Our life and property is at stake. The government ought to take permanent measures to prevent elephant depredation, said local residents.