Jamshedpur, Jan. 30: It’s the beginning of the harvest season and so is the elephant menace. At several parts of the twin districts of Singhbhum, paddy crops were destroyed by herds of tuskers that have begun their annual migration through the villages. Rampaging herds of tuskers in the villages are forcing innocent tribal to spend sleepless nights.
In an area that boasts of a forest cover of 30 percent, the human-animal conflict is major concern of the people. In past one week cases of elephant�s regularly damaging standing crops have shot up.
Recently, a herd of about 10 elephants went wild at two separate villages on the foothills of Dalma wildlife sanctuary late last night creating menace and spreading panic amongst the villagers. The elephants, who were returning from the jungles of Bankura and West Midnapore in neighbouring Bengal, damaged the brick wall of at least 11 one-room homes at Gerua and Narga and later targeted an ashram near the Dimna Lake, about 13 km from here.
When contacted, Dalma range officer R P Singh said the elephants damaged the brick wall of a house belonging to one Bimal Agarwal and also partially damaged a grill and broke a glass window of an ashram belonging to disciples of Asaram Bapu. �I went to the spot and spoke to the villagers. We have distributed firecrackers among the villagers,� Singh said. Compensation would be given to the affected villagers after going through the extent of damage he informed.
A local farmer Naren Mahto of Narga said elephants damaged standing crops and also wiped out potatoes from his farm. A forest staff also said the elephants were returning from Bengal and happened to cross Gerua and Narga. �We have asked villagers to remain alert. The elephants must be are stationed somewhere near Gerua,� he added.
As many as five herds of tuskers are going on a rampage at the villages in Jeraikela and Porhat under Saranda region, and also in the villages under Hatgamharia block in Chaibasa since the past copule of days. People are in state of havoc due to such menace. Sometimes villagers migrate to safer places for a week or more to avoid the sudden night-time attacks of the wild elephant herds.
�We are forced to spend sleepless nights. Our lives are at risk due to rampaging elephants. Elephants regularly venture into villages, destroy houses, damage standing crops and even trample people to death. We are forced to work like a �night guard� to save our lives and crops� said Langu Munda of Jhinkpani.
He said that rampaging elephants are a cause of concern. Some measures have been adopted and there is need to do more to protect the people.
The farmers have been asked to inform the nearest range office in case of crop raiding so that special teams will be deputed to drive the elephants into the deep jungle.