A house damaged by the herd at Amritnagar Khurd village in Hazaribagh on Tuesday. Picture by Vishvendu Jaipuriar
Hazaribagh, Sept.10: The herd of 13 elephants, including a calf, which damaged a heritage building near Canary Hills in Hazaribagh yesterday, has now been pushed further east into the nearby Juljul hills.
Forest officials’ task, however, is far from over as the elephants are only 13km away from Hazaribagh town and may stray into nearby human habitats again in search of food.
But, divisional forest officer (east) Ajit Singh said they would not allow the herd to take its original route via Hazaribagh town, Canary Hills to Ichak and then Tatijharia to Chalkusa.
Officials launched a massive drive to chase away the animals after they damaged Gibraltar House, a heritage building near Canary Hills, in the small hours of yesterday.
After relentless efforts, as many as 17 foresters, including experts from Bankura (Bengal), managed to drive them into the Juljul Pahad. This correspondent was present at Amritnagar Khurd village since yesterday to observe the elephants’ movement.
“We drove them through a different route — via Jabra and Amritnagar to Juljul in Silwar area — last night,” Singh said. Foresters are now planning to guide them into Churchu forests from where the herd would be able to enter Jhumra Hills and go to Bokaro. “We are keeping a close watch on their movement,” Singh said.
The elephants originally came from Dumka. Taking the route of Jamtara, Dhanbad and Giridih, they entered Hazaribagh’s Chalkusa and subsequently trudged through Tatijharia, Daru, Ichak and Canary Hills.
Chased by foresters, the animals damaged five houses, devoured food grains, crushed crops and injured five persons, including a 14-year-old girl, on their way to Silwar last night, triggering panic and resentment among residents of Bhelwantand and Amritnagar Khurd villages.
Ganga Ram (19), who was sitting outside his house at Amritnagar Khurd, only half kilometre from Hazaribagh-Giridih Road (NH-100), suddenly saw light and some unusual movements in Canary hill forest. Before he could guess anything, he found himself in front of the herd.
“I raised an alarm and ran towards my house, pulling my sister-in-law and mother along,” he told The Telegraph.
The elephants first pulled down the house of Rameshwar Ram. “The animals ate food grains and cooked food, before moving to Vijay Ram’s house next to mine,” said Rameshwar.
The animals broke the door open and devoured two quintals of rice, said Vijay’s wife Ambia. Their daughter Priti (14) was injured in the attack. Soon, over 2,000 people from nearby areas gathered to catch a glimpse of the elephants. The foresters, too, reached the village soon and steered the elephants towards Silwar using dragon lights.