Govt suspends forest ranger, transfers forester

Bhubaneswar: The state government today placed a forest official in the rank of a ranger under suspension on charges of dereliction of duty, which allegedly led to the killing of four elephants inside the Similipal National Park in Mayurbhanj district.

"The forest ranger, Ugrasen Jena, who was in-charge of Nawana South Range of the National Park had been placed under suspension while one forester was shifted from his present posting", forest and environment minister Debi Prasad Mishra told reporters here. The state government`s action followed an on-the-spot enquiry by the principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) J D Sharma, Mishra said.

The senior official was rushed to Similipal after recovery of some elephant carcasses. While the state government had so far confirmed death of one elephant calf, it was yet to make any statement on the death of three other pachyderms whose body remains were found buried under the ground.

A group of wildlife activists on Sunday had recovered some body parts of the elephants after digging particular places in Nawana South Range of the National Park. They suspected that a herd of four elephants comprising a tusker, an adult female and two calves were poisoned to death by poachers and subsequently burnt and buried under the ground.

Frequent elephant deaths were being reported from Similipal area despite establishment of a well organised watch and ward mechanism. At least six elephants had so far died in Similipal area this year, official sources said.