Patna: Villagers in Jharkhand state were both amused and panicked when they sighted a group of elephants taking a tour of their village, walking calmly on the cemented lanes and watching curiously the human settlements.
Witnesses said as many as three elephants reached Pungoda village which falls under Ghatshila block of East Singhbhoom district on Wednesday and moved around the whole village. They didn’t damage anything during their two-hour-long stay.
Although jungles in Jharkhand are home to around 700 elephants, this was obviously for the first time that they took a tour of the village so calmly. Reports said the tuskers have come so close to the village as the human’s movements are currently restricted due to COVID-19 fears. During the visit of the elephants, the villagers got themselves locked inside their homes and watched their activities peeping through the holes of the walls, ventilators or from the rooftops.
“This was a brilliant experience. We were very panicky when a group of three elephants entered our village but we saw them just enjoying our homes. They walked around the village but did nothing to us,” one of the villagers Sanjay Mahakud told the media.
Search of food
Another villager Durga Dandpat said they locked themselves in their homes with their family members since the elephants are known to have been raiding the homes in Jharkhand in search of food and locally-made alcohol brewed from mahua, a find of fruit. “We are surprised that the elephants didn’t even damage our ripe paddy crops in the fields,” said Durga.
Tribal villagers in Jharkhand have been surviving by brewing liquor from mahua, a forest product used for preparing liquor at home and available in plenty in the nearby forests. But villagers’ move to store these intoxicating stuff at home have proved costlier now as the elephants have developed a taste for these for this locally-made alcohol, villagers and officials say.
The desperate tuskers have been attacking villages and damaging homes after smelling scents of this alcohol wafting through the air in the jungle which is their homes. Unable to find them, the elephants either eat away the grains stored in the homes or kill the villagers, reports said. “They (elephants) can go to any extent and wreak havoc for liquor,” said another forest official.
Apart from the restricted humans’ movements, another reason behind the elephants coming so close to the human settlements is the continued disturbances of elephant corridors due to construction works and depleting jungles.
Wildlife Trust of India, a non-profit organization, claims to have identified 108 elephant corridors across India of which Jharkhand has 14 corridors, facilitating the movement of around 680 elephants.