The Forest Department on Monday began efforts to drive back a herd of seven elephants, including a calf, which was spotted close to a private resort at Rayanakere on the Mysore-H.D. Kote road, about 8 km from here. The authorities are hopeful of pushing them back to the forests by Tuesday.

“We are trying, it will take a lot of time,” Deputy Conservator of Forests, Mysore, D.S. Gaonkar told The Hindu. The officials succeeded in preventing the movement of the elephants towards Mysore city, which is their top priority.

As per the latest reports, the elephants, which stayed put at a particular spot near the resort the entire day, crossed the Jayapura area by 7 p.m., Nanjangud Range Forest Officer S. Jayashekar said. However, the herd is still about 15 km from the Omkara wildlife block of Bandipur National Park from where they reportedly came, according to foresters who noticed fresh elephant dung on the Udbur-Kalalvadi road on Monday morning.

The sighting created a scare and anxiety among locals. The Rayanakere area has a number of schools, apart from a hospital.

The movement of the herd comes close on the heels of tiger attacks that claimed three lives last week, underlining the increase in the number of incidents of man-animal conflict in regions abutting the forests. Bandipur National Park director H.C. Kantharaj said their lead elephant, Abhimanyu, which was assisting in the tiger operations at Bandipur, was being sent to Rayanakere to help push the herd back to the forest.

Forest Department officials, who tracked the movement of the herd in the morning, said the elephants were disturbed and strayed from Heggadahalli, where they were sighted on Sunday. The panic-stricken herd, chased away by the local people criss-crossed agricultural tracts from Hullahalli before reaching Rayanakere, on the outskirts of the city, in the wee hours of Monday.

The herd was apparently disturbed by people near Chikkadevanabetta in H.D. Kote from where it strayed to Heggadahalli and Kalalavadi bordering the Udbur village, before crossing over to the outskirts of the city.

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