Away from home, Chandaka elephants face a wipeout

The Chilika Wildlife Division officials on Thursday arrested two persons in connection with the deliberate electrocution of a 30-year-old tusker in Sipakuda under Rambha Forest range.

Published: 23rd August 2013 11:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd August 2013 11:10 AM   |  A+A-

The Chilika Wildlife Division officials on Thursday arrested two persons in connection with the deliberate electrocution of a 30-year-old tusker in Sipakuda under Rambha Forest range.

Another six, involved in the killing, are still at large and the forest sleuths are out looking for them.

The two were identified as Dasarathi Nahak and Subash Nahak, both natives of Sipakuda. They were involved in removal of the tusks of the elephant after it was electrocuted near a vegetable farm owned by a local family.

“We have identified eight persons in connection with the electrocution including four from one family. They had also made attempts to bury the carcass and contacted an earth mover of Ganjam but he refused to do the work. We hope to nab the rest soon,” Divisional Forest Officer of Chilika Wildlife Division BP Acharya said.

Although no tab has been kept on the elephants by Wildlife Wing of the State, what is significant about the tusker is that it might have been among the last of the herd that moved out from the forest of Chandaka and headed towards Ganjam during 2008-2009.

Bizarre as it may sound, the elephants of Chandaka, which have migrated in large groups in past several years, are fast getting wiped out in foreign terrains.

The large herd that went towards Rambha about four years back is feared completely wiped out with the last one being the tusker found electrocuted two days ago.

Till 2005-06, there were about 85 elephants in Chandaka. Now their number ranges between 20 and 30 in the sanctuary and most of them are confined to Bharatpur Reserve Forest that has been engulfed by the Capital City itself.

Chandaka, now rendered an isolated island of a forest, has been facing increasing stress both from outside and within.

“While an expanding Bhubaneswar and uncontrolled industrialisation in the Cuttack-Athgarh-Dhenkanal belt have been strangulating the forest’s contiguity with the Mahanadi Elephant Reserve, the villages inside the sanctuary have added to the pressure leading to heavy habitat degradation and disturbance and prompting elephant herds to abandon the sanctuary,” said wildlife conservationist Aditya Panda.

Under stress inside the protected area, the elephants have headed towards Barbara landscape where they rarely visited. Some headed towards Nayagarah, some went across Mahanadi to mix with Athagarh elephants, while others moved towards Ganjam.

A large herd comprising two groups of 18 elephants left Chandaka four years ago, never to return.

“Elephants ought to have safe homes and passages. Whenever and wherever the jumbos have gone off their traditional route, the mortality has been high as is the case in Dhenkanal where elephants could not cross Rengali canal and took routes fraught with danger,” said Ranjit Kumar Patnaik, a wildlifer.

List of casualties

Aug 8, 2008 - Two females electrocuted near Haripur-Burudi village near Rambha.

May 18, 2012 - One adult female was killed by a train near Subaliya near Rambha.

June 24, 2012 - One injured female calf died under treatment in Khallikote range.

Oct 6, 2012 -  A mother and a calf were electrocuted near Kanakhai village under Khallikote range.

Dec 20, 2012 - Four adults and a calf were mowed down by Coromandal Express near Subaliya.

Jan 19, 2013 - One adult male drowned in a well at Gada Huma near Huma village by NH 5.

Aug 20, 2013 - A tusker electrocuted near Sipakuda village

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