Despite the deaths of 476 elephants in the past six years, the number of elephants stood at 1,954, which is 24 more than that of 2012 census, but the number of males (tuskers) was only 341.
The Wildlife Society of Odisha (WSO), an NGO, working for conservation of wildlife claimed that of the 341 males, 150 are adults, which can contribute to breeding. According to government’s latest elephant census, there are 1,096 female elephants in the state.
“The states male-female ratio may be better than elephant rich forest in South India but the number of breeding male is very few here. For 1,096 female pachyderms, there are only 150 capable male for breeding, WSO secretary Biswajit Mohanty said. In the last four years, 82 male elephants have died, he added.
He further said breeding from ageing male elephant will not result in a healthy calf. “This is evident from the government’s admission that in the past three years more number of newborn elephants have died. If we don’t have adult male elephants, the population can’t increase,” he reasoned.
In the 2015 census, six forest divisions didn’t record presence of any elephant. While Similipal Tiger Reserve has the highest number of elephants, only one elephant was sighted in Jharsuguda division, said a wildlife officer. The eastern ranges comprising Mayurbhanj, Sambalpur and Mahanadi regions take lion share in terms of elephant population, he said.
According to WSO out of the 82 elephants that died in the last four years, 52 were killed by poachers for ivory and nine died naturally or accidentally. In another nine cases reason of death is unknown.
WSO had demanded that the adult breed of elephants should be radio-collared so that their movements can be tracked easily as they fall prey to poachers.