Sambalpur: There is no let-up in elephant deaths in the state as carcasses of two more jumbos were recovered near Tileimal village under Jamankira forest range of Bamra forest division in Sambalpur district, Thursday. The dead animals were identified as a tusker and a female elephant aged between eight and 13 years. The carcass of the tusker was recovered from a paddy field while that of the female elephant from a tomato field. It is suspected that the two animals might have died of poisoning who had come to the area from the nearby jungle in search of food, Bamra DFO Falguni Sarathi Mallick said.
On being informed, Forest officials rushed to the spot and launched an investigation. Preliminary inquiries indicated that the animals might have died after consuming pesticide laced crops from the farmlands as no external injury was found on their carcasses. The owners of the farmlands also admitted to have sprayed pesticides on their crops, two days back. The post-mortem of the carcasses will be conducted Friday and the exact reason behind the deaths would be ascertained after availability of the report, the DFO said. Bamra DFO Falguni Sarathi Mallick, forest ranger Gajindra Nayak and forest officials were at the spot monitoring the investigation.
Locals held the Forest officials responsible for the elephant deaths. They alleged that the Forest department is not taking any concrete step to drive away the animals from straying into human habitats despite a series of complaints. This is leading to loss of lives and properties. The farmers are applying pesticides in excess to protect their crops from pest attacks and diseases. The animals are dying after consuming the pesticide-laced water and crops on the farmlands, they alleged.
Environmentalists and animal lovers have questioned the safety and security of the elephants with frequent deaths being reported from various parts of the state almost every week. The animals face an uncertain and dangerous future with the forests of the state slowly turning into their graveyard.
Reports said that over 10 elephants have died within a year in the district with the animals becoming vulnerable in Bamra, Redhakhole and Sambalpur forest divisions due to various external threats like poaching through electrocution and gunshots for ivories