Forest Dept Doesn’t Know The Number Of Elephants In Odisha; Know Why

Bhubaneswar: Do you know how many elephants are there in Odisha? Even the state government doesn’t know.

The state Forest Department has not carried out elephant census since 2017. “There has been a huge decline in the jumbo population in the state and perhaps the authorities are scared that the truth will be exposed. Besides being killed on rail tracks and other reasons, poaching is rampant. Several elephants have strayed into bordering Jharkhand and West Bengal for food,” Biswajit Mohanty, secretary, Wildlife Society of Odisha (WSO), a wildlife conservation group, told the Times of India.

The last elephant census in 2017 put their number in the state at 1,976, 22 more than the 2015 census.

The WSO claimed that 46 elephants died every year on an average between 2000 and 2010 in the state. Since 2010, 70 elephants have died every year on an average in the state.

With increasing number of elephants being killed on rail tracks, by poachers and in man-animal conflicts, conservationists said the elephant census was important.

Meanwhile, Purabi Patra, Chairperson, Animal Welfare Trust Ekamra, has demanded a probe by the STF into alleged cover-ups of elephant deaths in Athagarh by the state Forest Department.

In a letter to the ADG, Crime Branch, STF Bhubaneswar, she drew his attention to four cases and sought a probe.

>> In November 2021, the then Range Officer was suspended for covering up the death of a tusker. She even kept the tusks with her for over a year, as per media reports, she pointed out.

>> On February 8, 2022, an STF team excavated the skeleton of a tusker which was allegedly buried by the Range Office staff.

>> On June 2 and 3, 2022, two more elephant carcasses were recovered from Badamba Range under Athagarh Division, she pointed out.

On June 2, an eight-member team of the STF exhumed the skeletal remains of an elephant in Chandragiri forest under Badamba forest range in Cuttack district.

In February, the Athagarh Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) had initiated action against a forester and a forest guard after skeletal remains of an elephant were exhumed in the Balikiari reserve forest under Narasinghpur (West) Forest Range in Cuttack.

In May, three elephants died after being hit by a goods train while crossing the tracks near Bansapani under Joda forest section of Champua range in Keonjhar district. The elephants, a female and two calves, were part of a herd of 22 crossing the rail tracks when they were hit by a goods train at night.


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