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Jumbos poisoned at Simlipal; carcasses found in core area

 

The Pioneer, MONDAY, 07 MAY 2012

MOUSHUMI BASU | NEW DELHI           

Jumbo massacre has recurred in Maoist-ridden Simlipal Tiger Reserve (STR) in Odisha with four charred carcasses of elephants being exhumed from the core area of the reserve. A series of jumbo killings were reported in 2010.

The cause of death of these tuskers is said to be poisoning by Thymate — a strong pesticide used by farmers. The forest department was caught totally off guard when the local activists and villagers informed them of the incident on Sunday.

There was a yet another case of tusker poisoning last week in STR, taking the recent toll of elephant poaching to 5. A total of 26 elephants have been poached in the reserve since the past two years.

Wildlife Society of Odisha (WSO) member organization of National Board For Wildlife (NBWL) has come out strongly against National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) for its failure to enforce the recommendations of two successive enquiry committees set up to enquire into elephant deaths in 2010 and 2011.

The poachers are said to be a part of floating population crossing over from neighbouring Jharkhand to the bordering reserve.

It was recently that Environment Ministry’s “Haathi Mere Saathi” initiative to save elephants had been taken up in the villages in and around Simlipal Tiger Reserve. Bhanumitra Acharya, wildlife activist and core group member of Haathi Mere Saathi along with Sanjukta Basa, Honorary Wildlife warden STR, were the first to report on the recent jumbo killings.

“ Four half burnt carcasses of elephants have been dug out from Nawna (S) range, Balikhal beat and Palpala 10 compartment of STR.”, says Acharya who returned from the forest on Sunday after two days of exhuming operations in the forest. The elephants were found buried in 2-3 feet deep pits at a distance of about 50 feet from the site where they were burnt.

Of these, one was a tusker whose tusks had been poached. The other three happened to be a female elephant along with her two calves. After the forest department was caught completely off guard on the incident, PCCF ordered an enquiry with Acharya, Basa and local forest officials to look into the matter.

“It is but obvious that the range officer had kept the  top reserve officials in the dark and we can not overlook the possibilities of his complicity in the incident”, felt Basa.

The Field Director STR Anup Naik confirmed of the incident. “These elephants have been killed by the use of thymate. Salt lick areas are created by the illicit tree fellers, by pouring the left over solution of fermented rice that they carry with them in the forest for their food. The pesticide is added to a mixture of  scented soap, salt, mustard oil and leaves dug into small pits. The smell of salt not only lures the elephants but even sambars and cheetals are also drawn to these areas when they eventually succumb to the toxic mix, regretted Nayak.


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