Sambalpur: The ailing tusker that breathed its last after being stuck in a pond near Sapalahara village under Padiabahal forest range in Sambalpur district for four-five days was actually shot by poachers that eventually led to its death, revealed Divisional Forest Officer in a press meet held Thursday. The matter came to the fore after doctors found a 4-inch bullet from the carcass of the tusker during post-mortem. Swinging into action, police and forest department officials have detained three accused in this connection.
Briefing the media, DFO Vishwanath Neelannavar said “Initially, we suspected it could have died due to illness after being stuck in the pond. However, during post-mortem, doctors recovered a bullet from the carcass.” “An extensive search operation was launched in Padiabahal range and three persons were detained within 48 hours. During interrogation, the poachers confessed to the crime. The accused are reported to have fired at the elephant from atop a tree in Kalapat area. Today we raided their houses and seized a country-made gun, two axes, wires and a rod used for stuffing the gun barrel. Interrogation is on,” Neelannavar added. The incident has triggered outrage among wildlife lovers.
Notably, the tusker was trapped in the slush in a pond near Sapalahara. Due to weakness, the pachyderm was partially submerged in water and was unable to come out. Forest officials claimed that they had given their best efforts to revive and rescue the ailing elephant. However, the tusker did not respond to the treatment. Finally, it breathed its last June 21. Meanwhile, reports of yet another injured elephant have surfaced after it was found limping in the reserve forest of Deogarh district Thursday.
According to sources, the female elephant was hit by a pick-up van while it was crossing National Highway-49 near Banjari village in the district. The elephant was then found wandering in the Prabhasuni reserve forest alone as its herd had left her behind after it was injured and could not catch up to the herd’s pace. A team of rangers led by Deogarh DFO Magar Dhanaji Raoso and a team of doctors from Simlipal had traced down the elephant in the Kansar reserve forest and had started its treatment after tranquilizing it. The condition of the pachyderm is improving now, sources said.