Since Saturday,elephants from Dolma forest are on a rampage destroying houses and damaging crops in a number of villages of West Midnapore District.
A herd of 70 to 75 elephants of Dolma forest strayed in the five villages of the district. According to the Divisional Forest Officer,Milan Kanti Mondal,the herd damaged paddy and sugarcane in an area of about 45 hectares. The villages where the pachyderms created havoc are Tarrui,Gopalbar,Pundra,Sinda,Mohanpur villages,said Mondal.
The villagers tried their level best to divert the herd of elephants but the herd destroyed many mud houses in the villages.
Villagers also alleged that the forest department after repeated requests did not take any measure to drive out the elephants. Mandal said that from Sunday evening four Hulla Parties groups of people with drums and fire had been deployed to drive them to Nayagram forest.
There has been a sharp rise in the number of man-elephant conflict in state in recent years. Reports published by the wildlife wing of the forest department show that more than 542 people and 222 elephants lost their lives in such conflicts in the past eight years.
While in 2007,64 people died in confrontation with elephants,last year the figure rose to 68. The casualties among elephants in 2007 and 2008 stood at 31 and 45,respectively.