Bhanjanagar: In a shocking revelation, a total of 353 elephants have died so far in Odisha due to several reasons in the last five years.
It seems the State has turned into a killing ground for the gentle giants as at least one elephant dies in Odisha every four days, official statistics reports adding that over 95 per cent of the deaths have clear human involvement.
Shockingly, as many as 67 elephants have lost their lives within nine months – between April and mid-December this year. And out of this 67 deaths, three are in Ganjam district. What is most appalling is, 62 of them have succumbed to causes that have a definite human connection.
As per 2017 census, there were 1,976 elephants in the state.
While the percentage of elephant death had been hovering around 40 percent till 2010, it has shockingly increased to 70 percent since last couple of years. From April 2013 to April 2018, death of 353 elephants had been reported from different parts of the state.
Despite all claims of the State Government and the Department on instituting stringent measures for the protection of wildlife, Odisha has virtually allowed a free-run to poachers.
Wildlife conservationists said poaching of wild animals is rampant and unchecked and will continue until accountability is fixed on the top-most officials who have failed to prevent it. Apart from poaching, loss of natural habitat, conflict with humans and accidents are the other key reasons behind the death of jumbos in the State. Deaths due to electrocution, train accidents, falling in well, muddy tanks and drains expose the gaps which the wildlife authorities and other government departments have failed to plug.
While 19 elephants have lost their lives in electrocution, either by accident or deliberate, six have been run over by trains and 12 fell in well, muddy tanks or nullahs from April to December.
Even as the state government has identified 14 elephant corridors to save elephants from habitat loss and relentless conflict with humans, the death of four elephants in a train accident in Jharsuguda in April and seven elephants due to electrocution in Dhenkanal in October clearly shows the way the projects are being executed.
A day back, carcass of a wounded five-year-old tusker was recovered from Nijakhandipentha village under Digapahandi block of Berhampur forest division in Ganjam district. Few hours after, another carcass of a tusker was found near Baradanda under Ghumusara North Forest Division.
The repeated death of the pachyderms has become a matter of concern for animal lovers. Wildlife conservationists have called to provide free and safe passage to elephants when they move through human-dominated landscapes to save the pachyderms.