CHITTOOR: A herd of 13 elephants from Tamil Nadu forests emerged into the fields at Pedduru village of Ramakuppam mandal of Kuppam constituency at dawn on Tuesday and destroyed maize and paddy crops on 10 acres.
The presence of wild animals at daybreak sent panic among the villagers, who shut themselves indoors.
Divisional Forest Officer (Chittoor West) T. Chakrapani, who has been camping in Ramakuppam mandal for the last two days, said that a team of forest department personnel were busy tracking a lone wild elephant, which had been giving sleepless nights to the officials and farmers for a fortnight. It got separated from its herd.
“Suddenly, this herd emerged from Tamil Nadu border and destroyed crops in a small stretch. Our trackers could successfully drive back the elephants into TN forests. Expecting raids by the herd again, we have mounted vigilance at the vulnerable villages,” he added.
The Pedduru farmers were worried that their crops bore the wrath of not only the lone elusive elephant, but also the herds from TN. “At a time when we should have been happily celebrating Sankranthi season, we are shuddering in fear of elephants, losing our crops to them. We are utterly helpless in protecting our crops due to dense fog. We can only detect their presence at a distance of a few feet,” they said. Some families living in thatched huts near the fields had left them and took shelter in the neighborhood.
Meanwhile, the DFO took a whirlwind visit of the vulnerable villages and advised the people to strictly desist from teasing them.
Meanwhile, the official said that though it was earlier suspected that the lone elephant was injured, “our trackers on close watch of the animal found that it is not injured.” He said that further guard was mounted to observe the animal.