BHUBANESWAR: Odisha has lost 282 elephants in the last three and half years. Between the financial year 2018-19 and the first five months of 2021, one jumbo died almost every five days in the State.
At least 43 elephants fell to electrocution during the period. Train mishaps claimed 13, while four elephants lost their lives in road accidents in the State, according to information furnished by Forest and Environment Minister Bikram Keshari Arukh in the State Assembly. Only seven deaths were attributed to poaching.
As per the Minister’s information, 59 elephants died due to other accidents which included fall from hills and drowning in rivers and water bodies as well as infighting. Arukh while replying to a question from member Prafulla Samal said the State has managed to bring down elephant deaths.
A total of 93 elephants had died in 2018-19. The number came down to 82 in 2019-20 and 77 in 2020-21. At least 30 pachyderms died between April and August this year. Anthrax and other diseases claimed 95 elephant lives. The cause of death is yet to be ascertained in 21 cases, which includes six this year.
In Odisha, rapid urbanization, mining and industry, expansion of linear infrastructure and fragmented habitats have sent elephants into a growing conflict with humans over the last several years.
The Minister stated that no declining trend of the elephant population is seen in the State as the jumbo population has continuously grown.
Census 2012 had pegged their headcount at 1,930 which subsequently increased to 1,954 in 2015 and 1,976 in 2017.
The Minister also informed that the state lost 17 leopards in this period which included two Royal Bengal tigers, killed in electrocution and disease separately in 2018-19. Five leopards were killed in poaching. The Special Task Force of Odisha Police, State Forest department as well as the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau have seized at least 29 leopard skins since April 2020. Nine leopard skins were seized by Forest officials in Kalahandi alone in July this year.