Jamshedpur, April 26: A small herd of eight elephants went berserk, devoured foodgrain meant for midday meal and caused extensive damage to at least five houses in the Ichagarh and Chandil blocks of adjoining Seraikela-Kharsawan district late on Saturday night.
Forest department officials said the tuskers had crossed over from the jungles of Purulia in Bengal. They strayed into villages while heading for the Dalma sanctuary.
The tusker menace began around 11pm. The marauding herd headed straight for the house of one Bijay Mahto in Soro village under Ichagarh block.
The elephants knocked down the tiled house and devoured the stock of paddy kept inside. They also damaged four other houses in the same village before heading towards Chandil.
There, villagers said, the herd damaged a primary school building and ate up the stock of foodgrain in one of the rooms of the school. The foodgrain — rice and pulses — was meant for mid-day meals.
Seraikela divisional forest officer A.T. Mishra confirmed that the herd had caused extensive damage of property in Seraikela-Kharsawan. He said that the animals had crossed the Ichagarh jungle into Chandil and were camping inside a primary school in Chandil since yesterday night.
“We believe that the elephants are from Bengal and strayed into the human habitat while proceeding towards the Dalma sanctuary,” said the DFO. He claimed that the forest department had sounded a red alert across the area and asked villagers to be on guard.
Mishra said the forest officials were also planning to drive the herd back to Bengal by bursting crackers and beating drums.
“The wild elephants do not move unless it is dark. After sunset, we will try to drive the tuskers, camping in a school, back along the same route they took to reach here. We will take the help of the local people for the exercise,” Mishra said.
He added that they were in constant touch with forest officials in Bengal for the safe return of the animals.