Odishatv Bureau

Dhenkanal: A full grown elephant was shot dead by poachers for tusks in the Kandara forest of Bhejia village of Hindolo Block in Dhenkanal on February 9.

The incident occurred on Tuesday night. The miscreants who killed the elephant using firearms managed to escape with the tusks under the cover of darkness after opening fire at a forest patrolling party.

Sources said when the attackers saw the approaching patrolling party of forest officials they fired shots in the air to threaten them. In retaliation, the patrolling party too resorted to blank firing. However, the miscreants managed to make good their escape in the melee.

The forest officials later discovered the dead elephant which is believed to be more than 30 years old, said a forest department source.

“Around 10 people were involved in the hunting of elephants using nearly as many as 9 guns” said Dhenkal District Forest Officer (DFO) Prakash Chand Gogineni.

He added, “The miscreants are suspected to have escaped in the direction of Narasinghapur.” The miscreants are still to be apprehended.

To carry out further investigation the forest department has sent the body of the elephant for post-mortem.

It is not the first time an elephant has fallen pray to poachers’ bullets for tusks in Odisha.

Increasing demand for elephant tusks in the international black market is resulting in a corresponding increase in the poaching of these innocent giants.

On the floor of the State Assembly on February 17 last year, Bikram Keshari Arukha, Odisha's Forest and Environment minister, had stated that between 2016-2019, 246 elephants were killed due to various reasons such as accidental electrocution, disease, accidents involving trains and other vehicles, natural and other causes.

According to the 2017 elephant census reports, Odisha had a total count of 1,976 elephants. Of the total number of 50 forest ranges in the State, 12 don’t have a single elephant now.

Moreover, the rapid habitat loss has made elephants turn towards human settlements, resulting increasing human-elephant encounters.