Elephants not scared of crackers
Keonjhar: Fire crackers no longer scare elephants in the district because of their excessive use by forest personnel to drive away the animals straying into human habitations.
The Champua forest range is badly hit by straying wild elephants into villages and farmlands.
The elephants intrude into village almost around the year which is why keeping them at bay remains a continuous task for the forest department, said Champua forest range officer Ghanashyam Barik.
The department has pressed into service 50 personnel in the elephant chase squad.
Additionally, 150 honorary volunteers, comprising local people, assist them in the operations. The bursting of crackers to disperse the animals is an effective and time-tested method.
Besides, the elephant squad beats drums and tin cans to drive back the elephants into the forest.
Lately, cracker-bursting has not been yielding the desired result because these intelligent animals are no more scared of the noise.
The animals have got accustomed to the loud sounds and are not scared of it any more, said a forest official.
Besides, the release of funds for procuring crackers is erratic.
The high-decibel crackers used for elephant chasing are locally made. The department is yet to pay the outstanding credit to the local cracker traders, said the forest official.
Three herds with 32 elephants in total are now inside villages and crop areas in the Champua forest range, which is largely a plain area with rich cover of dense forest.
The area is also marked by vast reserve of crop fields and orchards. As traversing through the plain area is less strenuous, elephants from Telkoi, Sadar, Ghatagaon, Joda and Barbil forest areas frequent Champua.
Mining operations, besides shortage of fodder in the natural forests, is the main cause for elephants venturing into human habitations.
The shortage happens primarily due to large scale felling of trees for timber, forest fires, rampant harvesting of fruits in summer and cutting off fodder creepers such as Siali, the forest official said.