BARIPADA: Armed poachers launched an audacious attack on forest staff leaving five of them injured in Dengam section of Baripada forest division’s Udala range on Tuesday night. The hunters were not finished as they tied the staff, assaulted them and decamped with their mobile phones. They also vandalised the forest officials’ vehicle.
A forest protection squad, led by range officer Arun Behera, raided Jamudihi village and seized 40 kg elk meat and two country-made guns from a poacher’s house. The team was returning to Udala range office with the seized items when a group of around 20 poachers forced stop their vehicle by blocking the road with a large wooden log. They vandalised the vehicle and snatched around 30 kg seized elk meat and a gun from the squad.
Later, the poachers took the squad members to an isolated place, tied their hands and thrashed them before leaving. The injured personnel are Sucharita Mohapatra, Ananta Narayan Choudhury, Deepak Mohanta, Jadunath Singh and Ajay Sahu. The range officer along with the driver managed to escape with the vehicle and reached Kundabai police outpost. On being informed about the incident, two constables went to the village to rescue the detained forest staff.
However, the villagers demanded the rest of the seized elk meat and gun from the forest officials. The constables had to return to the outpost late in the night without rescuing the squad members. At around 1 am, the forest personnel were released by the poachers following which they were admitted to Udala sub-divisional hospital. Behera said the five squad members sustained both external and internal injuries on their legs, back and heads.
Sources said around 70 poachers in Jamudihi had killed two elks in Similipal Tiger Reserve on Monday.
Divisional forest officer, Baripada Santosh Kumar Joshi said a case will be registered against the persons involved in the attack under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Besides, a complaint will be lodged against 10 poachers in Udala police station.
44 kg ivory seized by Baripada division, two held
Baripada: IN a huge haul, sleuths of Baripada wildlife division seized ivory weighing over 44 kg and arrested two persons near Angarpada village under Udala range on Wednesday. Acting on a tip off, Baripada DFO Santosh Joshi said, a team of forest personnel caught Fagu Prasad Hansdah and Pitho Soren red-handed when they were trying to sell the ivory weighing 44.90 kg to a person in Nudadiha.
It is suspected that the accused were in possession of the tusks of an elephant whose carcass was found at Kalamangadia village on January 6. The seizure has thrown light on poor protection in Similipal as the accused confessed to have spotted the dead elephant before removing its tusks.
Speaking to mediapersons, Hansdah said he and Pitho were collecting branches of Sal trees in Similipal when they found carcass of the tusker. Since the tusks were intact, they removed those and later entered into a deal with a person who wanted to procure the ivory. The dead elephant had an injury on the forehead. Hansdah (46) belonged to Angarpada while Soren (45) is from Anantapur. The seized tusks will be sent to the Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun for examination.