Elephant herd halts vehicular traffic on NH-55

Athgarh: Barely a month after a wild elephant herd blocked the Cuttack-Angul national highway (NH-55) here, the pachyderms once again created panic among the locals and travellers by disrupting vehicular traffic between the two towns for more than an hour on Sunday.

Around eight jumbos stood ground on the NH at Bali Baula square near Athgarh in Cuttack district. The animals inhabit in Baula Reserve Forest under Khuntuni range within Athagarh forest division, forest officials said. They were forced to come out of the forest due to sweltering heat and took shelter under the mango trees on the both side of the highway, they added.

Hundreds of vehicles stood on either side of the road as the animals moved on the road. Some locals informed the forest officials who rushed to the spot and drove away the elephants.

A similar incident was witnessed at the same spot on April 13 after a herd of 18 elephants blocked the NH for around an hour. Later, they had barged into the premises of nearest Sri Sri Dhabaleswar (SSD) College by breaking its boundary wall and wreaked havoc.

Sources said due to rampant felling of big trees by wood mafia, the canopy of the local forest has been decreasing leaving little comfortable environment for wild animals.

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