Digapahandi: A five-year-old tusker was allegedly shot dead by some poachers, forest officers said.
The carcass of the tusker with its tusk intact was spotted near Nijakhandipentha village under Digapahandi block of Berhampur forest division in Ganjam district Sunday morning.
The villagers spotted the carcass near Danabedha pond at 4 am following which sarpanch Bibhuti Bhushan Mohapatra informed the forester Paramananda Panigrahi and K Nuagaon police station.
Hundreds of villagers from nearby villagers thronged the spot and the police and forest department officials launched an investigation.
Residents alleged that it was a case of poaching as the carcass had a wound on its neck portion. Moreover, the carcass of the tusker was covered in blood and had gunshot marks, the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Berhampur Forest Division, A K Behera, said.
“We suspect that the elephant was shot dead by some miscreants, but the exact cause will be known only after an autopsy is conducted,” he said.
Since its tusks, each around one-and-a-half feet in length, are intact, professional poachers might not have been involved in the killing, the DFO said. An investigation has been initiated to nab the poachers, he added.
According to reports, a herd of eight pachyderms, including two tuskers, had been on a rampage and destroyed a vast stretch of paddy crops. Local villagers had stopped moving after evening fearing the attack from wild animals.
Last Thursday, a herd of elephants roamed into a barn, ate up the harvested paddy and damaged three bullock carts of farmers. Some poachers reportedly ganged up late Saturday night and shot the elephant.
After receiving a bullet below its neck, the elephant is said have run trumpeting for about 5 km before being collapsed near the Danabedha pond.
The wound near its neck could be an indication that the poachers tried to get away with the tusk. But as the day broke, they left the place without taking the tusk, the villagers alleged.
“We are waiting for post-mortem report to arrive at a conclusion,” said Behera.