Himansu Shekhar Rout

As many as 66 elephants died in Odisha in the past year, as per the elephant census report of the Odisha government.

The report stated that the number of elephants has increased by 122 in Odisha in the last seven years. 

According to the census report, there are currently 2098 elephants in 38 forest divisions in the state while their number was 1976 in 2017. The report mentioned, that 313 adult tuskers, 13 adult makhna, 748 adult females, 148 subadult males, 282 sub-adult females, 209 juveniles and 385 calves.

Speaking about the census, PCCF (Wildlife) Susanta Nanda informed, "A three-day census of elephants was conducted so that the Forest Department can develop a management strategy. It coincided with a full moon night because elephants are seen on those days. We have done it after seven years with a coordinated effort under the Project Elephant. Towers for the census were built for the purpose. Squads were deployed for three days.”

He added that the total count of elephant herds at the circle level was done and then at the state level. A total of 2098 elephants were sighted in 38 divisions in Odisha, he informed.

According to the PCCF, the number of existing elephants is quite okay as per the state’s retaining capacity. 

In the last five years, 403 elephants have died for various reasons and the rate of mortality is 3-4 per cent annually, which is normal, he observed. 

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"Last year, the state reported 66 elephant deaths while the department has planned to keep track of the elephants by using Artificial Intelligence in the forests of Angul and Dhenkanal. This will be executed soon," he added. 

“In winter, elephants stray from neighbouring states. To know their number, an elephant census will be held from November 15 to 17 this year,” he added.

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