Mrunal Manmay Dash

The Odisha Wildlife Special Task Force (STF) exhumed the skeletal remains of an elephant in the Balikiari reserve forest under Narasinghpur (West) Forest Range in Cuttack on Tuesday.

The STF team was led by the In-Charge of the Wildlife STF, Bilasini Nayak.

As per reports, following a tip off about an elephant being killed and buried by poachers, the task force team identified the pit in the jungle and recovered some skeletal remains of the elephant. The STF had information about another place in the jungle where the remaining parts of the giant were reportedly buried. However, the team was allegedly stopped by the local forest officials from carrying out digging at that place.

Speaking to reporters, Nayak said, “We had reliable information that the body parts of an elephant have been buried at two different places in the jungle. Unfortunately we could not dig at the second place following opposition from Forest department officials. However, we managed to dig at the first place- Compartment-11- near Barasingha area and recovered the skull and some bones of an elephant.”

Following the recovery, Odisha PCCF, Sashi Paul ordered a probe and despatched the DFO and Ranger to the spot to conduct investigation.

Clarifying on the controversy surrounding the denial of permission by Forest officials to the STF team to conduct digging at one of the suspected burial spots, Paul said, “I have no information about the disputes. The DFO has been sent to the spot. I can make any comments only after I get a detailed report.”

Asked about the missing ivory and poaching of the elephant, Paul said, “From the state of decomposition, it is believed the elephant could have died 6-8 months ago. The bone samples have been sent for DNA profiling to ascertain its gender. If it turns out to be a male, then the question of poaching for ivory will arise. In the event it is found to be a female, we will have to probe from a different angle.”

The STF had questioned eight persons in this connection on Monday.