Elephants in Roria forest of Bokaro’s Jaridih block on Wednesday. (Pankaj Singh)
Hazaribagh/ Bokaro, Sept. 11: The erratic movement of elephant herds in Hazaribagh and Bokaro districts have forced foresters to step up vigil, rein in panic among urbanites and curb man-animal conflict in villages during a time when standing paddy crops are most vulnerable to attack.
In Hazaribagh yesterday, from Amritnagar Khurd village to Bhelwatand, villagers burnt tyres to stop the entry of elephants. Fears were fuelled as three got separated from the 13-member herd that had gone on a rampage at Gibraltar House in the city and adjoining villages over the past two-three days.
However, no elephants were sighted yesterday.
Divisional forest officer (east) Ajit Singh told The Telegraph this evening that elephants were “15km from the city”, heading towards Ramgarh along the Churchu-Demotand-Charhi forests from where they would reach Gola and go to Bengal.
“Trackers from Bankura as well as our men are keeping tabs on their movement. There is no reason to fear,” he said.
But he added that people in Hazaribagh city, which know the jumbo attack for the first time, as well as adjoining villages, were still afraid.
“They are calling me round the clock for help from Harli, Jhumra, Meru, Amritnagar Khurd and Bhelwatand areas,” he said.
In Bokaro, a 14-member herd, including four calves, crossed Hisim hills on the Purulia-Bokaro border around 3am yesterday. The entire day, they damaged paddy in several villages falling in Jaridih and Kasmar blocks. Villagers across Choli, Lodkiyari, Bhavanipur, Dumarkudar and Mahdeobera have reported damage to standing paddy.
Last night, villagers beat drums, burst crackers and lit torches to steer elephants to Rodia forests, 18km from Hisim hills.
Bokaro district forest officer Arvind Manish said elephants were now anchored at Rodia forests, some 10km from Bokaro-Purulia border under Jaridih block. He added villagers would be duly compensated for the damage.
“I have assured people they would compensated according to government norms. Our team of forest officials has reached Jaridih and Kasmar block villages to take stock,” he said.
He also stressed that the herd was not belligerent.