Baripada: Distressed elephants of Similipal Sanctuary face an uncertain and dangerous future due to threats from poachers and hunters. With the increasing cases of elephant poaching question arises — how much-secured elephants are at the Similipal sanctuary of Odisha.
In a fresh case of illegal trade of tusk, forest officials on Friday arrested two smugglers and seized 8 pieces of tusks weighing 45kg from their possession.
Disguising themselves as customers, a special team of forest officials approached the smugglers and made a deal of Rs 18 lakh for the said tusks to trap the smugglers. When the negotiation was going on the Forest officials nabbed the smugglers. Accordingly, the two smugglers were arrested. As per the preliminary investigation, it was confirmed that the said tusks had been collected from Similipal by the poachers.
Importantly, it has been learnt that not only these two tusk smugglers, but there is a presence of a racket behind this illegal trade.
“The 8 pieces of tusks are of one elephant. Further investigation in this matter is underway,” intimated Baripada Divisional Forest Officer.
As per reports, poachers had haunted a tusker and fled away after cutting its tusk in the Kaptipada’s Sarisua forest on January 6. The forest officials recovered the carcass of the elephant four days after the incident. Accordingly, two officials were suspended in this connection. Since then, the officials had kept a vigil on the smugglers.
Similipal is house to one-third of the total number of elephants in Odisha. As per the 2017 elephant census, Mayurbhanj district is home to 489 elephants out of which 330 reside in Similipal Sanctuary, 70 reside in Baripada forest division areas, 46 elephants are in Rairangpur forest division and the remaining 43 stays in forests under Karanjia forest division.
Moreover, elephants from Jharkhand also often stray into the sanctuary in search of food and water. However, in the last two years, at least 20 elephants have died in the Mayurbhanj district. Two died due to electrocution while one was killed by poachers, two elephant calves died in tiger attack while the remaining pachyderms died naturally, forest department officials said.
Although the Forest department claims that it is taking the utmost steps towards the security of elephants, a former wildlife warden has the inability of the department as the possible reason behind many elephant deaths