Mrunal Manmay Dash

The Athgarh Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) has reportedly initiated action against a Forester and a Forest Guard after the Special Task Force (STF) submitted its report to the DFO on the death of an elephant in the Balikiari reserve forest under Narasinghpur (West) Forest Range in Cuttack.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF), Sashi Paul said on Tuesday that the STF, which exhumed the skeletal remains of a dead elephant in Balikiari reserve forest on last Tuesday, submitted the report to the DFO, prompting action against the Forest officials who are under a cloud.

“Earlier, we suspected the involvement of our staff in the death and burial of the elephant. That was confirmed in the STF report. Action has already been taken against the Forest Ranger and a Forest Guard. Appropriate action will also be against other persons involved in the case,” said Paul.

As per reports, following information about the killing and subsequent burial of an elephant by poachers, a Special Task Force team had identified the pit in the jungle and recovered some skeletal remains of the jumbo on last Tuesday. 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 digging the place.

Meanwhile, animal lovers and wildlife activists staged a protest in front of the Prakriti Bhavan at Saheed Nagar in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday over the tardy pace of investigations in many elephant death cases in the State.

Speaking to OTV, an animal lover, Purabi Patra said, “Whenever an elephant dies, the PCCF always says that an investigation is on. But we want to know the result of the probes too, which are never made public in this State.”

Wildlife Expert Biswajit Mohanty said, “The senior officers sitting in their cosy offices in Bhubaneswar never go to the field to inspect the work done by the junior officers. There have been cover ups in almost all the endangered animal death cases. This needs to be uncovered and the officials responsible should be dismissed from their jobs.”