Dhenkanal: Acting on a tip-off, Forest Department personnel recovered the carcass of a female elephant from a forest near Mahajan Taila village under Mahabirod forest range in Dhenkanal forest division Tuesday morning.
Preliminary probe revealed the pachyderm was shot dead by unidentified poachers. The animal bore two bullet injuries – one near its right eye and another on the right side of its stomach.
According to villagers, a herd comprising over 15 elephants currently inhabits the Mahabirod forest and it often strays into the village during nights and cause havoc.
The pachyderms feed on standing paddy crop and destroy vegetables. Earlier, the villagers had informed the Forest Department officials about the presence of the jumbos, but no steps were taken to drive the marauding animals.
Repeated attacks by the elephants also made the local villagers suffer losses as several acres of farmlands were damaged. Similarly, the pachyderms also vandalised many houses.
While no exact reason of the killing has been ascertained yet, rumours are doing the round that the animal might have been killed by some villagers to vent their anger over the losses caused by the herd. On the other hand, some suspected it was the act of some poachers.
On being informed, Mahabirod Ranger Suresh Chandra Behera and Dadaraghati Forester Ramchandra Rout along with other Forest Department officials reached the spot and started an investigation into the pachyderm’s death.
The officials conducted the autopsy of the carcass and buried it in the forest. When contacted, Ranger Behera said that a probe was on and those behind the heinous act would be arrested soon and action would be taken as per law.
On the other hand, villagers held the negligent attitude of the Forest Department officials responsible for the death of the pachyderm.
“Had the Forest Department officials been vigilant regarding the movement of the herd and taken necessary steps to drive the herd into the forest, the pachyderm would have been alive now,” a local farmer said.