Jamshedpur, May 29: The forest department has decided to retain a team of elephant chasers to drive away a herd of nine that destroyed three houses at villages of Khukro block in Seraikela this morning.
The 12-member team from Purulia in neighbouring Bengal has already chased a rogue tusker — which had trampled three persons to death at villages in Ichagarh block of Seraikela-Kharsawan — after arriving on Sunday.
Concerned over the threats posed by elephants to humans in the twin blocks, divisional forest officer (DFO) of Seraikela A.T. Mishra said, “We had engaged the team of chasers on the request of villagers in Ichagarh block, where the tusker had killed three persons within a week. But we will have to retain the team for a few more days to drive the herd of nine elephants.”
In Ichagarh, anxious villagers had approached deputy chief minister Sudesh Mahto, who heads the forest and environment department, last week raising alarm over the deaths caused by the marauding tusker, said to have strayed from Bagmundi forest, Purulia.
On May 24, they wrote to Union minister for environment and forest Jayanthi Natrajan requesting her to ask officials to get the elephant killed.
Besides, they sent a letter to the Dehradun-based Wildlife Authority of India.
However, Mishra pointed out, “The team of chasers, led by Bhola Bala, drove the tusker on Sunday to Johrakhal forest, about 40km from Ichagarh, on the Bengal-Jharkhand border. But just as the team was preparing to return to Purulia, the herd of nine elephants has threatened villagers in Khukro.”
Residents of Khukro villages are staying alert to thwart any attack from the herd of elephants, which tend to devour paddy crops and jackfruits.
Sajan Mahto, a resident of Jagannathpur village in Khukro, told The Telegraph: “We remain vigil every night, even after the tusker in Ichagarh has been kept at bay. With another herd lurking around, there is still a threat to our houses, crops as well as lives. So, we prefer not to be entirely dependent on forest officials.”
Asked, Mishra said this year, the elephants had started migrating much earlier than usual, that is around October.
He pointed out a good harvest of paddy crops this season and intermittent rains in parts of Singhbhum might have attracted the elephants.
“Not only elephants from Bengal are migrating to Seraikela, but also those from Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary,” said Mishra, adding that three herds had come down to the foothills of Dalma in the past three days.