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Jumbo herd kills one in Mayurbhanj

Balasore, Nov. 16: A herd of wild elephants that migrated from Jharkhand has sparked panic among villagers in Mayurbhanj district, on the border of Odisha and Bengal.

Sanatan Bhadra, 25, a protection assistant of Similipal Tiger Protection Force, was trampled to death by a herd of elephants in Upper Barhakamuda forest range on Wednesday night. Bhadra was a native of Khaparakhai village.

“The incident took place when he had gone to attend nature’s call,” said deputy director of Similipal tiger reserve Bikash Ranjan Dash.

“Adult elephants usually get aggressive when they are accompanied by their calves. That probably led them to attack Bhadra,” he said.

The animals came into the district through the Nayagram forest range of Bengal.

The herd, which consists of about 100 elephants, is now near Lodhakundia and Paligaon. The elephants came here after crossing Banakati and Ghanghana villages in the limits of the Deuli forest range.

The animals have caused widespread damage to paddy crops. Villagers here have been spending sleepless nights in an attempt to protect not only their crops, but also the lives of other villagers, including women and children.

So far, the elephants have destroyed 10 mud and thatched huts, said forest officials.

“We have been trying to chase them across the border, but haven’t succeeded since they divide into groups and move in different directions,” said assistant conservator of forests Sanjay Swain.

In the past few years, the elephants of Dalma sanctuary in Jharkhand have been using the path through the Nayagram forest range as a corridor.

The new corridor that the elephants have been following passes through the forests that fall in the limits of the Deuli, Rasgobindpur and Betnoti ranges of Mayurbhanj district before finally coming into Kuldiha sanctuary.

“We have told the people not to disturb them, as the government will provide adequate compensation for their losses and damages. We are worried about the safety of the villagers as well as the elephants,” said Rasgobindpur forest range officer Batakrushna Jena.