It took a dozen forest officials and eight farmers of Shershong gewog in Sarpang at least eight hours to chase a herd of seven elephants away from the settlement in Shershong yesterday.

Among the herd were three juvenile elephant and four adults. The herd was chased into the forest above Umling gewog, range officer in Gelephu Singye Wangchuk said.

Last week, it was villagers of Pelrithang in Gelephu gewog that spent a night chasing away the elephants from the field. Farmers started by 10pm and whistle, crackers and loud drum noise could be herd until 4am.

Singye Wangchuk said there are a total of 32 elephants in Gelephu, Samtenling, Shershong and Chuzagang. Eight are in Pelrithang, three in Dzomlingthang, six in Dechenpelri, another eight in the Airport area, six in Chuzagang and one in Shershong.

Presence of elephants and crop damage in these areas has been rampant for several years. “Elephants are expected to leave Gelephu by end of December to Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary after farmers complete harvesting paddy,” he said.

He added that all possible mitigation measures have been put in place to drive away elephants. For the past three months, forestry officials, in teams, have been patrolling day and night in places frequently encroached by elephants.

Several reports of damage to crops have been submitted to the ministry, Singye Wangchuk said. “It is paddy harvest season and lot is being damaged.”

Meanwhile, a recent video that went viral on social media showing the movement of 46 elephants in Gelephu was not true. Sources said that the large herd was sighted in Jomotshangkha drungkhag in Samdrupjongkhar earlier this month.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang