A family of elephants has strayed into Andhra Pradesh from a forest reserve in Odisha and are refusing to leave, all for the love mangoes.
Comprising three adults and four calves, the family could be part of a larger herd. The Indian Express reported that the elephants crossed the Mahendra Tanaya river bed from the Tumbakota Reserve Forest near the Andhra-Odisha border and entered Andhra Pradesh on the night of 5 May, probably in search of food.
According to forest officials, the elephants were initially happy living off the grass but eventually started devouring fruits growing in nearby tribal villages. They ate bananas growing on half an acre of land and chewed off tender bamboo that had been planted as a part of a social forestry project.
But clearly, it is the mangoes that they really love. It is peak mango season and the trees are hanging heavy with ripe fruits. However in three tribal villages along the Andhra border, the elephants have allegedly eaten every single mango. A forest official said that the elephants love mangoes so much that they don't want to go home. Apparently, the junior jumbos are also very fond of cashews.
While forest officials are searching for a way to send the elephants back to the forest reserves in Odisha, the tribals are worrying over their lost harvest. Still, many villagers are following the elephants around, throwing flowers at them and trying to garland them as they are considered a symbol of good fortune. Reportedly, the villagers are specially fond of the younger pachyderms.
For their part, forest officials have warned the villagers against bothering the elephants. If they feel threatened in anyway, the elephants tend to run helter-skelter in panic and could possibly trample someone who is in their way.
Tribals have also tried the traditional tactic of beating on drums to scare the elephants away but apparently their love for mangoes has proved to be greater than their fear of drums. Forest officials are hoping that the satiated herd will retreat to Odisha tonight.
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