CB to begin probe into elephant poaching cases

Bhubaneswar: The crime branch of Odisha Police will start probe into the poaching of elephants allegedly by organised rackets at different parts of the state, official sources said. "We have already received an order from the state government to start probe into the matter. The CB have set up contact with authorities of Similipal Nataionl Park. A team of officers will leave for Similipal in a couple of days," Additional Director General (crime) B K Sharma told PTI.

Sharma, part of the CBI probe into the infamous tiger deaths at Sariska in Rajasthan over five years ago, said the state crime branch had the experience of probing into certain wildlife poaching cases in 2007. The state government this time handed over probe in three poaching cases to the crime branch, one relating to the death of two pachyderms at Balikhal in Similipal Biosphere Reserve in November 2011 and one case each pertaining to Kuldiha and Satkosia wildlife sanctuaries.

"We decided to hand over the probe to CB into the alleged involvement of organised syndicate in the elephent poaching case, if any," Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (wildlife) J D Sharma said. Though the state government claims that population of elephants have increased from 1,886 in 2010 to 1,930 in 2012, it is miffed over heavy elephant?casualty?owing to poaching, electrocution and other reasons in the state.

While 51 elephants died in 2009-10, the pachyderm casualty in 2010-11 and 2011-12 was 83 and 66 respectively. In 2012-13, at least 21 elephants perished, officials said. The state government was also planning to have a multi-disciplinary team involving police and forest officers to focus on major wildlife cases, track poachers and improve surveillance activities.