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Probe into jumbo death

TROUBLED TIMES

Balasore, Dec. 3: The regional chief conservator of forests, Baripada, has sought a joint inquiry report relating to a recent controversial death of an elephant near Lalpani.

The dead animal, said to be around 12-years-old and nearly seven feet tall, was discovered last Saturday near a drain at village under the Kochilaghati gram panchayat. After autopsy, the carcass of the jumbo was buried under the supervision of the Dukura ranger.

The mutilated body suggested that the death occurred at least a week ago. Besides terming it as death by poisoning, wildlife activists alleged that “poachers” had removed the tusks of the elephant.

However, a controversy arose about the range jurisdiction and the gender of the animal.

Although Dukura range officer Laxmidhar Behera, under Baripada forest division, had conducted the post-mortem, the report was not submitted as the divisional forest officer said the area didn’t fall under his jurisdiction.

“Though the range officer under the Baripada forest division did the autopsy and disposed of the body, we have not received any report till date. The divisional forest officer didn’t submit the report stating that as per GPS reading, the area fell under Similipal Tiger Reserve limits,” said regional chief conservator of forests, Baripada, Anup Nayak.

A four-member team comprising the assistant conservator of forests of Baripada as well as of STR, an honorary wildlife warden and a retired range officer will ascertain the jurisdiction, he said.

“I have sought a report from the deputy director of STR about the elephant’s gender and reason of death,” he added.

The team members visited the spot today to determine the division limits.

“According to information available with me, the elephant was poisoned to death by poachers and the tusks were removed by them. There should have been small tusks even if it was a female elephant,” said Acharya.

“The trunk was detached, which indicated that the tusks were removed by thugs, as there was a time lapse between the death and detection,” he said.