Ramakanta Biswas

A day after facing flak from the Orissa High Court over the poaching of an elephant at Similipal Wildlife Sanctuary, the forest department seems to have got into action mode and arrested three staff involved in the crime on Wednesday. 

The arrested trio-Jenabil ranger in-charge Siba Shankar Samal, forester Chandrabhanu Behera and forest guard Binod Das- were earlier placed under suspension in connection with the poaching of the tusker and disposing of carcass.

The carcass of the male elephant was recovered in Similipal South Wildlife Division on December 7 prompting the forest department to launch a high-level probe. The Orissa High Court on Tuesday conducted a hearing in connection with the case. 

Expressing deep concern over the incident, a bench comprising Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice Murahari Sri Raman termed 2022 as the worst year for elephants in Odisha.

During the hearing, Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) Manoj V. Nair appeared before the court virtually and admitted that the poaching has indeed happened and the three forest officials killed the tusker and tried to destroy the evidence by disposing of the carcass. 

However, the HC bench expressed disappointment over the fact that the trio was suspended, but no FIR was lodged against them.

The court has asked the forest department to file an affidavit listing out the exact measures taken for the protection of elephants before the next hearing scheduled on December 22.

Reported by Maniklal Pani, OTV