Analysis

THE JUMBO MISMANAGEMENT

Odisha turns out to be worst place for pachyderms

571 persons killed in 8 years; State loses 1400 pachyderms since 1990

By A K SAHOO

Bhubaneswar, April 27: Odisha is fast turning out to be a major man-elephant battlefield, causing irreparable damage and destruction to both the sides. Sample this: As many as 1400 elephants have died unnatural deaths in the state since 1990.

And what about the number of human casualties? It’s no less huge – as many as 571 persons have been killed by the jumbos by April 28, 2018.

Of the 1400 elephants killed since 1990, 591 elephants have died in the last eight years itself.

From an average mortality of 33 per year between 1990 to 2000, it grew to 46 per year between 2000 and 2010 but after that it has reached an alarming average of 73 elephants per year from 2010-11 to 2017-18.

If the rising death trend continues it spells doom for the species as it might significantly overtake the birth rate.

Sharing details about the precarious positions of the elephants in the state, members of Gajah Bandhu, a body of elephant protectors, said that out of the 591 elephant deaths since 2010, 207 (35 per cent) died due to unnatural reasons like poaching (95) and electrocution (87).

“Trains killed 23 elephants. However, barring suspension of few field staff, the department has miserably failed to take action against any senior officer. Two elephants died in road accidents and seven elephants have died falling into open wells. Of the 591 deaths, the reasons could not be determined in 19 per cent of the cases i,e 111 deaths, primarily due to detection of bodies in decomposed state. Since April 2015 (three years), 80 bodies were found in decomposed state,” said Dr Biswajit Mohanty, Convenor, Gajah Bandhu.

Gajah Bandhu members are dismayed that the forest department has done precious little to protect the adult breeding males.

“On an average Odisha is losing 18 adult breeding male elephants each year. In the last five years at least 62 adult males have been poached, but not a single culprit has been apprehended till now due to lack of effective intelligence network,” Gajabandhu members said.

The demanded that adult males be radio collared, tracked and monitored to protect them and also to warn unsuspecting people from encountering them.

The Gajah Bandhu members also expressed concern that since 1990, over 1,200 persons have been killed by elephants and over 600 have been injured.

In the last eight years, 569 persons have been killed and over 300 have been injured. The number of human elephant encounters have gone up from 107 in 2014-15 to 120 in 2017-18.

“This year within just 26 days, in 15 encounters, 10 people were killed and 18 injured. Dhenkanal Division’s Sadar and Sadangi Range account for 6 deaths alonee with several injured in last 26 days,” they informed.

Odisha – Elephant Mortality

April’ 2010 to 25th April’201

 

Year               Elephan tDeaths

2010-11                                  83

2011-12                                  68

2012-13                                  80

2013-14                                  75

2014-15                                  56

2015-16                                  80

2016-17                                  69

2017-18                                 73

2018-19 (25th April)               7

Total                                    591

Photograph: Mother and calf electrocuted by sagging 33KVA line  at Gunudei under Sadar Range in Odisha

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