Pradeep Pattanayak

Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary in Balasore district, once a habitat of 100 elephants, seems to be no longer a safer place for these pachyderms. From the fact that the sanctuary has witnessed six elephant deaths in a year, it can be assumed so. 

While a female ailing elephant died yesterday, an ailing tusker is presently fighting for life in the sanctuary. Frequent deaths of elephants have raised serious concerns about the wellbeing of elephants. While animal lovers have ascribed the deaths to poaching, the concerned officials are yet to say anything on the contrary. 

Indicating towards poaching, ex-wildlife warden Prakash Chandra Mardaraj, said “In Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary, there are no cases of electrocution and poisoning.” 

When asked, DFO, Balasore, Sumit Kar said, “Elephant deaths are of two types. One is natural and the second one is due to poaching. If any poaching death occurs, we know about it. During last few months, there were no cases of poaching.”

According to the figure shared by the Forest and Environment Minister, Pradeep Amat, as many as 245 elephants have died in Odisha in last three years.  This means, on an average 82 elephants died every year. 

What astonished many including animal lovers was that the Minister said only six out of 245 elephants died due to poaching. 

“The information shared by the Forest and Environment Minister is completely wrong. That 245 elephants died in three years is correct. But poaching-related deaths would be more than half of the quoted figure,” opined Biswajit Mohanty, environmentalist.