Poaching whiff in elephant deaths (Bhubaneswar)
Riyan Ramanath V, Times of India
January 24, 2023
Wildlife experts have said that the recent discovery of elephant carcasses
in Similipal Tiger Reserve, one on Sunday, with their tusks missing
indicated the involvement of poachers.
On Sunday, the decomposed carcass of a jumbo was found in the reserve with
both tusks missing. One and a half months ago, another elephant carcass
that was burnt allegedly by forest personnel also had no tusks.
The forest department had said the tusks were removed but did not confirm
it was the handiwork of poachers. The carcasses were also found in
decomposed state which could indicate laxity in field patrolling, experts
Sai Kiran, deputy director (Similipal north), said forensic teams and
veterinary doctors have rushed to the site where the decomposed carcass was
found to collect evidence to ascertain the cause of death. “Parts of the
carcass have been sent to Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology
(OUAT) for laboratory examination to ascertain what led to its death and
how old the elephant was,” said Kiran.
Wildlife experts said tusks missing from decomposed carcasses can be
inferred that poachers killed the pachyderms purportedly to extract their
“It has been observed that in case of elephant death caused by
electrocution (be it accidental or wire trap), tusks usually are not
removed, which means angry villagers may have laid the trap to avenge loss
of property or lives and in some cases because of sagging wires. But in
case of decomposed carcass found deep inside the forest, tusks are removed.
This indicates poaching,” said Biswajit Mohanty, secretary, Wildlife
Society of Odisha (WSO), a private body working for wildlife conservation.
The organisation claimed that on an average 80 elephants die in the state
every year out of which 40 are killed by poachers. In many of these 40
deaths, their tusks were removed.
In a decade prior to 2020, WSO revealed that of the 784 elephant deaths,
114 were killed by poachers, mostly for ivory, 79 died by electrocution
trap laid by poachers, 45 due to sagging live wires, 26 in train accidents,
six in road accidents and 11 due to drowning in wells and canals.
The reasons behind deaths of 160 elephants are still not known as 113 were
found in highly decomposed state.