Rashmi Ranjan

The soaring cases of forest fire seem to have immensely disturbed the wildlife settlement in Odisha as an elephant was spotted in the forest on Sikharchandi hills near Bhubaneswar on Sunday.

Though it is unclear from where the elephant has come from, it is believed that the pachyderm might have strayed into the city from nearby Chandaka forest. 

Till the last report came in, the exact location of the elephant could not be ascertained. While some believe the animal might have returned to Chandaka forest, others suspect that the jumbo might have got stranded on the hills due to the wildfire.

Though various developmental works are being carried out on the Sikharchandi hills, the exact cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained.

Meanwhile, panic gripped the local residents after the lone jumbo, believed to have separated from its herd, was sighted near the human settlement.

“Sikharchandi is a tourist spot which witnesses footfalls of hundreds of visitors daily. The government should take necessary steps to ensure the safety of the tourists and control the forest fire. Besides, the elephant should be driven away from the human settlement as it may pose threat to human lives,” said a local.

“The elephant was first spotted on March 11 night. Forest department officials had tried to drive away the animal last night. The fire was also doused by the Fire Services personnel,” said a shop owner at the Sikharchandi hill.

“Elephants often stray into human settlements fearing forest fire and it results in human-animal conflict. The forest fire is not new. The government should initiate necessary steps to curtail the forest fire which is happening every year,” said Biswajit Mohanty, wildlife expert. 

(Reported by Kapilendra Pradhan, OTV)