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Forest Dept fails to protect elephants


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784 killed in 10 years; DFOs blamed

BHUBANESWAR: Odisha is fast turning into one of the biggest graveyards for elephants. Poaching is one of the major reasons for it. But what has emboldened the wildlife smugglers is lack of legal action.

The Forest Department in mere eyewash does indeed nab some poachers, to prevent public reaction. But the criminal is out on bail within a week and back to his nefarious crimes.

Not a single poacher has been found convicted by the courts in the last two decades though there are at least 20-25 officially recorded poaching cases every year.

The DFO is the wildlife warden of every division and is the one responsible for filing and prosecuting. How many DFOs have faced disciplinary action for failing to ensure conviction of even one elephant poacher?

Zero in fact. To make matters worse, some unscrupulous forest officials are hand-in- glove with the wildlife mafia.

As per Government statistics, as many as 784 elephants have died in the State during the last 10 years. This was informed by Forest and Environment Minister Pradip Kumar Amat in the Odisha Assembly on Tuesday.

Replying to a query of Congress’ Jeypore MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati, the Minister said as many as 34 jumbos were killed by poachers, while 36 died in accidents from 2012-13 to 2021-22. Out of the total accidental deaths, 30 were killed in rail mishaps and six in road accidents.

The Minister further informed that as many as 245 elephants died in 2019-20 and 2021-22.

Despite the high number of deaths, the jumbo population has increased in the State. As per the 2017 elephant census, 1,976 jumbos were detected in the State.

This apart, the Minister informed the House about various steps taken to protect conservation and protection of elephants.

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