.........ROURKELA: AS villagers of interior pockets of Rourkela Forest Division (RFD) in Sundargarh district are living in panic due to growing incidents of elephant depredation, resentment is brewing against the Forest department.
Villagers on Tuesday detained forest and police officials for more than four hours after a tusker killed a woman Dania Lakra (50) at Ankurpali in Nuagaon block under Kuanrmunda forest range. They demanded uninterrupted power supply during night to keep the elephants at bay and total protection from jumbo attacks. With this, human casualties in elephant attacks have risen to 12 in less than 11 months under RFD limits.
Kuanrmunda Range Officer S C Sahani said due to poor visibility, the woman could not see the tusker feeding at a bamboo bush. The woman was trampled to death at around 5 am . This tusker was separated from the herd of seven elephants a few days ago, he said.Sources said the herd, staying in Kuanrmunda range, moves around different areas of RFD limits posing a threat to the villagers and their crops.
Tuesday’s death comes close on the heels of the death of a farmer Lucas Munda (46) at Jharbera village of Bisra block on November 5 due to an elephant attack of the same herd.In fact, the herd is responsible for eight of the 12 human deaths. From July 12 to August 12, this herd had killed four persons in Kuanrmunda range, including an elephant chaser and a woman with her six-year-old son.
Sundargarh Zilla Parishad president Emma Ekka, who is a resident of Nuagaon block, said villagers of Nuagaon, Kuanrmunda and Bisra blocks continue to live in fear after sunset due to movement of the elephants. Mud houses at scattered locations near forests are prone to elephant attacks, she said and demanded effective measures to protect the villagers and ensure safe habitat for elephants.
Regional Chief Conservator of Forest (RCCF) Lingaraj Otta said the movement of the elephants is being tracked and instructions have been issued to protect the villagers and the elephants.To add to the woes of the Forest department, about 42 elephants are present in Banki range of the RFD.