BHUBANESWAR: The state is losing around 400 wild animals, on an average, in a year. Among other reasons, poaching and deliberate poisoning seem primary factor behind the deaths.
On Tuesday, forest minister Bikram Keshari Arukh told the Assembly that 1258 animals including birds and elephants have died in past three years. Out of these numbers, 200 elephant deaths have been reported during the same period since 2013.
The minister was responding to a question of deputy leader of opposition Chiranjib Biswal, who wanted to know how much money was spent for rotection of elephants and how many died in past three years. The minister statement in the House revealed that the government spent nearly Rs 42 crore for protection of the pachyderms in three years.
“We are preventing elephants from entering human habitation by erecting solar fence, digging trenches and constructing boundary walls. We have deployed elephant trackers to monitor the movement of the elephants. To check poaching, we have formed anti-poaching squads and anti-smuggling squads. We are also providing villagers information regarding elephants movement beforehand for their safety. From financial year 2012-13, we have been implementing a five-year programme to maintain the 14 existing elephant corridors in the state,” said the minister in the House.
Official sources said the death of wild animals, birds and elephants have been reported mostly from wildlife sanctuary including one marine sanctuary and a bird sanctuary in Nalabana in Chilika. Some stray incidents of animal deaths have also been reported from other forests besides sanctuaries.
The information supplied by the minister to the House revealed that 262 animals were killed due to poaching and 99 due to poisoning. The animals mostly falling prey to poachers, are elephants, barking deer, spotted deer and wild boar. Around 106 birds have been killed due to poaching and poisoning.
Other reasons of animal deaths have been stated to be electrocution (accidental and deliberate), train and road accidents, other accidents and natural. Around 90 animals have died due to diseases.
Wildlife campaigner Biswajit Mohanty said incidents of animal killing are avoidable. “For the last seven years, ever since electrocution of pachyderms occurred, we have been urging the wildlife department to take measures to stop electrocution but nothing has been done since then. The forest department has had tall claims of coordinating with energy department to raise the height of electric poles to prevent sagging of wires but in reality nothing has been done,” alleged Mohanty.