A female elephant and her calf were found dead in a paddy field in Mayurbhanj district on Saturday. The carcasses of the elephants were spotted near Niyuti village under Gurguria forest range of Karanjia division. While the female elephant was aged about 20, the calf was only three months old. Though the cause of their deaths was yet to be ascertained, preliminary reports indicated that they might have died of poisoning.
A group of veterinary officials from Karanjia and another veterinary team from Baripada jointly conducted an autopsy. Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) Baidyanath Majhi said the autopsy report is awaited.
Tension prevailed in the area as forest officials arrived late despite prior intimation. According to locals, forest officials were intimated on Friday night after they heard screams of the pachyderms in the field, but none came to their rescue.
The villagers said a herd of elephants from neighbouring Jharkhand had been wreaking havoc in the area by damaging paddy crops in several acres of land. They suspected the farmers might have applied pesticides in the paddy fields to ward off the pachyderms and the mother and calf might have eaten the poisoned paddy plants.
Some forest officials, who visited the spot, were of the opinion that the death of the elephants might have been due to anthrax, as blood stains were found in their urine and stool.
Karanjia DFO Prasanna Kumar Behera said it would be difficult to decide on their cause of death as no injury mark is spotted. “We are waiting for the autopsy report to know the exact reason behind the twin deaths,” he added.