BALASORE: A team of experts from Animal Diseases Research Institute (ADRI) from Cuttack and Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) visited Mayurbhanj on Wednesday to probe elephant deaths.
On the direction of Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) SS Srivastava, the four-member team visited Naana village under Gudgudia range of Karanjia forest division where the carcass of a tusker was found near a paddy field on December 8. Its tusks were intact leading to suspicion of death due to anthrax.
The team also collected soil samples from the cremation site and other spots where its blood was found. The experts and veterinary surgeons also visited periphery villages and interacted with locals to ascertain if any cattle was found dead and queried about vaccination of animals.
Though ADRI had confirmed that the tusker had died of anthrax, wildlife activists had raised doubts on the report citing that pesticide packets were found in the paddy field near the carcass.
Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Karanjia, Prasanna Kumar Behera said, though two packets of pesticides were traced by a dog squad, the blood test conducted by ADRI confirmed the death due to anthrax.
This tusker was part of a herd of 30 elephants which had strayed into Mayurbhanj a month back from Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary of Jharkhand.
Naana village is only about five km from Odisha-Jharkhand border.
On November 21, another tusker from the same herd was found dead in Bijatala area under Rairangpur division and its tusks had been removed.
On December 13, another sub adult tusker was also found dead in Subarnamanjari hill under Dukura range. An elephant death due to anthrax was reported from the same spot in December last year.
Baripada DFO Sanjay Kumar Swain said, ADRI research team has confirmed that the death of sub adult tusker was due to anthrax. The team has sent soil collected from the spot to Kolkata for further tests.
In November and December, nine elephants were found dead in Mayurbhanj forests. Of them, seven died in one month.