Ranchi: Two wild elephants were found dead at the Dalma forest range in East Singbhum early on Monday. Forest officers suspect poisoning by villagers as the reason behind the deaths.
Divisional forest officer Kamlesh Pandey said, “The two pachyderms, aged between 15 and 25 years, were found dead close to the paddy fields at Geruwa village in Patamda block. The place of occurrence lies on the Dalma elephant corridor between Jharkhand and West Bengal.” A team of forest guards and doctors rushed to the site and have sent samples for forensic test, he added.
Officials of the local forest department said the two were part of a herd, which was moving towards Purulia in West Bengal at night. Foresters are anticipating a possible case of poisoning after the pachyderms consumed pesticides, which were being sprinkled on paddy fields for a good harvest. Pandey said preliminary investigation suggests the pachyderms died in the wee hours of Monday.
Back in the department headquarters in Ranchi, senior foresters are anticipating a possible case of deliberate electrocution by farmers to protect their harvest. Rajiv Ranjan, chief conservator of forests-wildlife (CC-WL), said attempts to deliberately electrocute jumbos are high in villages in and around the sanctuary. “Despite repeated attempts to raise awareness among locals, the problem remains,” Ranjan added.
The Dalma-Dalapani corridor is one of the busiest interstate elephant corridors in Jharkhand, where several incidents of crop and household damage by elephants on the rampage are reported every year. With the latest forest data recording steady growth in elephant population and thinning vegetation in protected forests of the state, chances of man-animal conflict and collateral damage can go higher, the forester said.