Hundreds flee as elephants run amok in Chhattisgarh village

Raipur, Sep 17 (IANS) Hundreds of villagers in a forested hamlet in northern Chhattisgarh have fled their homes after a herd of wild elephants entered the village, destroyed several houses and injured three men over the weekend, officials said Monday.

“As many as six rogue elephants have created havoc in Pampapur village in Surguja district. On Saturday night, they brought down five houses and injured three men,” a forest department official told IANS.

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“The elephants again ran amok in the same area Sunday night but this time the villagers were alert and ran away. But the elephants destroyed three more houses,” he said.

“The weekend elephant attacks have created terror among the tribal population of Surguja district’s Lakhanpur block. About 450 people have fled from two villages since Sunday night,” the official added.

Many villages of Surguja, Jashpur, Koriya and Raigarh districts are known for man-elephant conflicts over the past decade. But elephant attacks have increased since 2005 and dozens of people have been killed.

Forest officials say the core reason behind the rising attacks is encroachment by people into the elephants’ natural habitat.

According to official sources, the state government is planning to create a fenced corridor for elephants. This would check entry of humans into elephant zones and the animals coming into civilian pockets.

The Chhattisgarh government has paid over Rs.3.5 million since 2005 as compensation to families who have lost relatives and property in elephant attacks in the affected districts.