Elephant menace seems to have returned to haunt villagers of forested pockets under Sundargarh forest division in Sundargarh district.
Sources said villagers are fearing for life in the wake of marauding elephants claiming lives and damaging thatched houses. Villagers under the Ujjalpur forest range are, in particular, a panicked lot after a tusker on Thursday and Friday accounted for two lives. While A Baura of Kainsjor village was chased and killed, a woman Katrina Bud was trampled to death at Goelsukha village. Both the killings are suspected to have been committed by the same tusker.
The forest division borders Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand besides Sambalpur and Jharsuguda districts.
It is learnt that from 2009 to early 2011 a wild tusker had claimed at least 10 lives and it is not clear if the same tusker had returned. ?
Sundargarh DFO Arjun Behera said it is difficult to establish that the same tusker had returned on a killing spree. He added that in all probability the fresh killings were done by another tusker. He said two elephant squads are on the job to track the tusker at Ujjalpur and Sundargarh ranges.
In the past one year at least nine persons died due to elephant attacks under six forest ranges. Elephant herds stray into residential areas to give sleepless nights to villages.
A herd recently damaged several mud houses at Bandega village of Balishankara block. Sources said villagers are often taken unawares as the pachyderms make appearances and it gets difficult to locate the animals in one night as they travel around 50 km.
The DFO said adequate safety measures were in place to keep the animals at bay.