Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government Tuesday informed the Assembly that at least 246 elephants have died in the state due to several factors including poaching since 2016.
Forest and Environment Minister Bikram Keshari Arukha said this while replying to a question and stated that the deaths have occurred between 2016-17 and 2018-19. The deaths were mostly due to diseases, accidental electrocution, mishap involving trains and other vehicles and other causes, informed Arukha.
The minister said as per the last elephant census carried out 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).
Of the total 50 forest ranges in the state, 12 don’t have a single elephant, the minister said, adding that Chandaka Wildlife Sanctuary close to Bhubaneswar city has only one elephant.
The minister said elephant conservation projects have been taken up in Similipal National Park and two other such projects 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.