BHUBANESWAR: Elephant deaths are being reported almost daily from several parts of the country but the first-ever synchronised elephant census carried out in eastern India has shown that the jumbo population in Odisha has actually increased: from 1954 in 2015 to 1976 now.
The male elephant number has risen by three but the female number fell by four. The number of young elephants rose by 12.
The bulk of the population falls in the three elephant reserves (ERs) in Odisha: Mayurbhanj, Mahanadi and Sambalpur. There are 1,536 elephants (77.7%) in the seven wildlife sanctuaries that fall in these three ERs. There are 79 elephants in another five sanctuaries.
Significantly, there are 361 elephants living outside the ERs and sanctuaries, which means that about 18 per cent of the jumbos in Odisha live outside the protected areas (PAs). In the 2105 census, the number of elephants outside the protected areas was found to be 402, or 20 per cent.A majority of the elephants living outside the PAs are female (193).
The census results were announced by Odisha forest and environment minister Bijayshree Routray here on Monday. The census was held in May across four eastern states: Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Odisha.
The Similipal elephant reserve has 635 jumbos, followed by 694 in Mahanadi and 207 in Sambalpur. The core division of Similpal continues to hold the highest number of elephants (330) followed by 169 in Dhenkanal, which remains the worst man-elephant conflict zone in the Odisha.
Of the 43 divisions which participated in the census, 37 recorded elephant sightings but six -- Khariar, Chilika, City forest division, Koraput, Jharsuguda and Bargarh – reported not one.
If compared with 2015, the number of elephants in the Mayurbhanj elephant reserve has shown a marginal drop from 649 to 635. This may be because of migration.
Data available with the Odisha Forest Department shows that as many as 311 elephants have died in the state in the last five years. Nineteen deaths were due to poaching while electrocution - both deliberate and accidental - claimed 34 lives.
This year the synchronised census was conducted to eliminate duplication. The raw data was sent to the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru which made the final report and submitted to Project Elephant.