Bhubaneswar: In a bid to provide high-quality treatment to wildlife, the state government has decided to build a world class veterinary hospital for wildlife animals at Chandaka forest range near Bhubaneswar soon.
This decision was taken at a high-level meeting presided over by Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy here Saturday. Later, the hospital would be developed to a centre of excellence with advanced knowledge, equipment, research and development (R&D) activities. The Forest and Environment department is preparing a detailed plan in this regard, sources said.
Once the hospital is set up, wild animals including elephants can get better treatment. Now, wild animals are being treated at Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT), Bhubaneswar.
Additional Chief Secretary Forest & Environment (F&E) Mona Sharma outlined the issues and PCCF wildlife Harisankar Upadhyay presented the updates for discussion.
Considering the present forest area and elephant population in the state, Tripathy directed the officials to adopt ‘focused intervention approach’ for development of elephant habitats.
Further, he directed the F&E department to create more wage-employment opportunities for people by sourcing funds from MGNREGS. It was decided to build three underpasses on NH-55 in Dhenkanal, Redhakhol and Athmallik forest divisions this year to save elephants from accidents.
Tripathy directed the DFOs and power distribution companies to have regular interaction with each other for minimising electrocution death of the elephants.
The Chief Secretary directed the officials concern to keep strict vigil on the miscreants and criminals intentionally fixing live wire to kill the elephants with ulterior motive. It was decided to take drastic legal steps against such criminals and expedite the process of prosecution.
The meeting resolved to intensify elephant protection and conservation activities in elephant habitats like Mahanadi, Mayurbhanj and Sambalpur elephant reserves spreading over 8,509 sq km, through plantation of the species generally consumed by the elephants. Around 23 such species were identified and listed.
The proposal for weed eradication, meadow development, fodder plantation along with creation of more water bodies were approved in the meeting.
At present, there are 14 elephant corridors in the state. It was decided to further develop two corridors – Similipal-Hadgarh and Barunai-Nuagada corridors.
As per a study conducted by Asian Nature Conservation Foundation Centre for Ecological Sciences of IIS, Bangalore around 1,700-1,800 elephants can be sustainably managed within larger forest landscapes of Odisha.
The elephant population in Odisha has shown an upward trend during last seven years. In 1999, the total elephant population was around 1,827 which increased to 1,862 in 2007, then to 1,930 in 2012, and further to 1,976 in 2017.