Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: It was only towards the fag end of last month, a female elephant was electrocuted after it reportedly came in contact with a livewire trap laid by farmers in Bagharatola forest under Rourkela forest division in Sundargarh district.

Be it live wire trappings or sagging wires, the wires are cutting short the life of the mammoth mammal in Odisha in a big way.

In a written reply to a query in State Assembly today, Forest and Environment Minister Bikram Arukha has stated the obvious trend.

The Minister informed as many as 119 elephants died of electrocution in Odisha during the period 2009-19. Keonjhar reported the maximum electrocution deaths, he added.

The big revelation here is 2019 has turned out to be the most deadly year for jumbos in Odisha as a high of 26 elephants have so far died of electrocution, which is the highest ever in State's history.

The appalling fact is when 12 died due to coming into contact with sagging wires, another 12 died of live wire trapping by the poachers.

As per sources, till date the year has seen 76 jumbo deaths. While diseases have emerged as the biggest killer of jumbos in the State, electrocution followed it closely. Accidents (road/rail) emerged as the third largest killer of the giant mammal.

Since the year 2000 to till date, Odisha has lost a massive 1,432 elephants. And nearly 99 per cent of deaths were unnatural causes.

How the jumbo population is at stake in Odisha? When a female elephant could give birth to only around 6 calves on an average in her life span, electrocution on an average is killing around 10 elephants every year in Odisha.

If such would be the unnatural death rate of elephants in Odisha, then by 2050 Odisha would again witness elephant translocation from some neighbouring States like Assam!

This is not a surmise. Sample this. When the 2017 elephant census in State recorded an increase of 22 elephants since 2015; the total jumbo deaths during the period 2015 – 2017 was estimated at around 34.