At least five elephants have died in Prabhasuni reserve forest of Deogarh district in the last three months. While this has left wildlife activists worried, it has also exposed failure of forest officials in saving the large animals. The deaths have been reported between June 9 and September 17. Poaching is suspected to be the reason behind the animal deaths.
An ailing tusker was noticed on the outskirts of village Asurkhol in Pravasuni Reserve Forest on September 11 till they found it lying injured in a ‘nullah’ near the village on September 14. Subsequently on September 16, a team of doctors from Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT), Bhubaneswar reached the spot but failed to save it.
Postmortem on the elephant revealed that a 7-inch spear of an arrow was lodged inside the skull after piercing through the wound below its left eye, which resulted in the death.
On June 12, decomposed carcasses of three female elephants were found in Damdami hill in Prabhasuni reserve forest under Deogarh forest range. Veterinarians, who performed autopsy, said the elephants died after being struck by lightning. The spot is barely 5 km from Tileibani beat house and each beat house has under it one forester and five forest guards.
This raised questions on how the deaths of elephants could go unnoticed when there is a tracking system in place.According to reports, 25 elephant deaths have been reported in Deogarh district from April 2010 till date of which, six cases are of poaching.
As per Elephant Census of 2015, there were 42 elephants in the district and the number was 49 in 2012. Deogarh DFO K C Samantray said he is awaiting postmortem report to ascertain the cause of death of the tusker on September 17.