BALASORE :The elephant population in Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary in Balasore district has seen a marginal decline, as per the latest census. This is in contrast to the State’s elephant population which has witnessed a jump by 24 from 1,930 elephants in 2012 to 1,954 this year.
The census, which was conducted between May 26 and 28, cited 89 elephants in the sanctuary against 93 recorded during the 2012 census. Of the 89 elephants, 18 are male, 50 female and 21 juvenile.
Although for over a decade the elephant population has seen an increase, for the first time their number has come down leaving the forest officials and wildlife lovers worried. As per the 2010 census, the jumbo population in the sanctuary was 81. While there were 56 jumbos in 2002, their population was 59 in 2005 followed by 67 in 2007.
It is learnt that three elephants, male, female and juvenile each, had died of diseases in the sanctuary in the last three years, while an adult elephant was suspected to have been killed in 2012.
DFO Harsabardhan Udgata though admitted that the elephant population has dwindled in the reserve forest, he claimed it was not alarming. “The forests here see migration of elephants to the nearby corridors. The jumbos from the district migrate to nearby forest areas,” he said.
The sanctuary, situated in the Swarnachuda foothills, rich in flora and fauna, is spread over 272.75 sq km and is famous for its wild population like elephants, leopards and tigers. It is known to be the best place in the State to observe the magnificent wild elephants from a fairly close range. The DFO said several initiatives have been taken to protect the wild animals here. While 49 fresh water bodies have been dug inside the forest to mitigate water crisis during summer, 12 squads have been deployed for round the clock patrolling.