A whooping 406 elephants were killed in Odisha due to various reasons in the last five years, Forest and Environment Minister Bikram Keshari Arukha informed the State Assembly during the on-going winter session, on Monday
“While different accidents claimed the lives of as many as 162 pachyderms, electrocution led to the death of another 54 elephants. It was followed by train hits which claimed the lives of 14 elephants. As many as 11 jumbos were killed due to poaching. Similarly, 90 elephants lost their lives due to other reasons,” said Arukha while replying to a question raised by Jatni MLA Suresh Routray.
As per Forest officials, most of the elephant deaths occurring in the State are accidental in nature, including electrocution.
“Expansion of human settlements and agricultural fields has resulted in widespread loss of elephant habitats. As their habitats shrink, elephants are progressively forced into closer contact with people, resulting in more frequent and severe conflict over space and resources with consequences ranging from crop raiding to reciprocal loss of lives,” said former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Bijay Ketan Patnaik.
“Ruining of elephants’ corridors in the State due to various construction activities are also one of the reasons for growing human-elephant conflicts. Some people are also deliberately electrocuting elephants to save their agricultural farms and lives from the elephants,” said Patnaik.
“It is saddening to note that several wild elephants are losing their lives due to callous and negligent behaviour of humans. Awareness should be created among the people to save the lives of these wild animals that play a significant role in maintaining the ecological balance,” he said.