An operation was launched on Sunday by forest officials to drive away a herd of wild elephants which have strayed into the Tiger Hill area near Coonoor.

The presence of the herd which had moved into the area about three days ago has become a major source of concern as it has affected the routine of the people residing there. They have been prevented from venturing out of their houses between dusk and dawn.

With fear mounting, the North division of the Nilgiris forest department has formed a team headed by Assistant Conservator of Forests Jayaraj to push the pachyderms deep into their habitat.

Speaking to The Hindu after visiting the area where the animals have set up camp, the District Forest Officer, the Nilgiris North S. Ramasubramaniam said that the herd comprised four adult females and two calves.

Pointing out that they had strayed from a shola patch, he said that they had been drawn by the bananas being cultivated in some places nearby.

Stating that on Sunday evening the animals were seen close to the labour quarters of the Tiger Hill tea factory of the Tamil Nadu Tea Plantation Corporation (TANTEA), he said that efforts are on to force them to move towards Marappalam.

Expressing the confidence that by Monday evening the operation can be completed, Mr. Ramasubramaniam said that the people have been requested not to cultivate bananas. They have also been asked to exercise utmost caution while moving in the area.

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