Bhanjanagar: The rampant felling of trees is one of the reasons forcing elephants to stray into human habitats in search of food and water.
During their search, the pachyderms get killed as they fall into pits, waterholes and isolated wells. Many environmentalists, animal lovers and forest officials have raised concerns about the development.
A recent study said at least 39 elephants were trapped in 24 wells in the last four years in the state when they ventured into villages for food and water. Five of them lost their lives while three were rendered critical. Ganjam leads the list with six elephants reportedly trapped at wells in four separate incidents from the district.
The first such incident in Ganjam was reported from Kadapada village under Buguda forest range in December 25, 2012. The pachyderm was rescued then and safely guided back to the forest.
In January 19, 2013, an elephant died after getting trapped in an isolated well in a forest near Humma village under Khallikote forest range.
Similarly, a mother elephant and calf were trapped in a well near Dubapali village under Tarsingh forest range. After the officials rescued and helped return the mother elephant to the forest, they looked to save the calf. But the mother elephant had already returned to the forest and the calf looked around in search of its mother and died later due to starvation.
This incident drew huge flak from several quarters then as many people slammed the irresponsibility of officials.
The same day, another elephant and its calf were trapped in another well near Kushapali village. However, both of them were rescued and the officials safely guided back them to the forest.
Though there has been a demand for the construction of platforms around wells, the forest officials pay no heed. Locals say isolated wells should be spotted and buried to curb such incidents.
Meanwhile the forest officials Monday conducted the post-mortem of a decomposed elephant carcass found from an area near Bardanda village under Tarsingh forest range. The post-mortem reports suggested starvation as the reason for its death.
Officials suggested that the pachyderm was killed some three-four days ago. Although the pachyderm was lying dead for the last 3-4 days, no forest officials noticed it, locals said, suggesting it was a clear case of negligence. They demanded regular raids to keep track of such incidents. PNN