Bhubaneswar: Orissa, where kings were once addressed as 'Gajpati', is fast turning into a graveyard for elephants with 296 jumbos dying in the past five years. (Agencies)
Electrocution has been identified as the major cause of elephant deaths in the state, forest and environment minister Bijayshree Routray said. At least 116 elephants were electrocuted in the state in the period between 2000-01 and October 11, 2012.
While 46 of them were found to be deliberately killed by administering electric shock, 70 others died accidentally by coming into contact with hanging live electric wires.Wildlife activist Biswajit Mohanty said the casualty rate was over 10 per year since 2008-09.This year 13 pachyderms have died, while 18 died in the previous year, forest officials said.
An analysis of elephant deaths in the last five years showed that while 26 jumbos died due to poaching, 16 were poisoned to death to prevent damage to crops.
At least seven elephants were run over by trains while 16 more were killed in various other accidents.Between 2008-09 to October 2012, 59 jumbos died due to diseases. During the same period, 29 elephants died due to deliberate electrocution while 32 died of accidental
The forest minister held the energy department responsible for the large-scale jumbo electrocution, but energy minister Arun Sahu claimed, "It is the responsibility of the forest and environment department to regularly inform the enegry department about the elephant routes."
The forest and environment department has so far lodged five cases against electrical engineers holding them responsible for the deaths.
Worried over the situation, forest and environment secretary R K Sharma said, "The government has set up a joint coordination committee to monitor elephant deaths. Members of both forest and environment and energy departments are in the committee. It will hold at least one meeting every month."
Bhubaneswar: Orissa, where kings were once addressed as 'Gajpati', is fast turning into a graveyard for elephants with 296 jumbos dying in the past five years.