Bhubaneswar: At least 246 elephants have died in Odisha since 2016, mostly due to poaching, electrocution, mishaps involving trains and other vehicles and diseases among other factors.
The situation is so grim that 12 of the 50 forest ranges in the state don’t have a single elephant. The Chandaka Wildlife Sanctuary adjacent to the state capital has only one elephant.
Forest and Environment Minister Bikram Keshari Arukha said this in the Assembly on Tuesday.
The minister informed that as per the last elephant census in 2017, there were 1,976 elephants in Odisha with the highest number of 330 jumbos reported from the core area of Similipal National Park followed by Dhenkanal (169), Satakosia (147) and Athagarh (115).
He said elephant conservation projects have been taken up in Similipal National Park and in Mahanadi and Sambalpur ranges.
This apart, Arukha said steps have been taken to protect and restore 14 elephant corridors. “New ponds are being dug up in the elephant corridors including sanctuaries and national parks and plant saplings raised to feed the elephants,” the minister said, adding that special steps are being taken for meadow development.
To prevent elephant deaths due to electrocution, the minister said coordination meetings are being regularly held with officials of state Energy Department. He said railway and road transport authorities are also sensitised against elephant deaths due to accidents.