Bhubaneswar, June 3 (Odisha.in)-A wild life group Wednesday alleged that about 12 elephants were killed in Orissa’s Similipal national park in April by poachers and demanded a central probe as it suspects the role of local wild life officials in the matter.
The information about the mass poaching of elephants came to light during the elephant census carried out in April this year in the park, Biswajit Mohanty, secretary of the Wildlife Society of Orissa told Odisha.in.
Mohanty alleged that a fact finding team led by Sanjukta Basa, the honorary wild life warden of the region visited the park last month and gathered information about the mass death of the elephants.
Harishankar Upadhyay, the field director of the park said he can confirm only six deaths. “We found the carcasses of four- a male and a female and two calfs, and the bones of two other elephants” he said.
But Mohanty said he has information about the remaining deaths which need to be verified in the field but the forest authorities have not permitted further visits by the team lead by the honorary wildlife warden.
“A forest range officer in charge of the area where the poaching had allegedly taken place did not allow the honorary wildlife warden to enter the park April 30 to verify the reports even though she had permission from higher authorities”, he said.
“The local forest staffs had reported the death of one elephant only in April concealing the deaths of others” he said.
“After the honorary wildlife warden was finally allowed entry in May, she located four other carcasses out of which two were burnt down in an apparent bid to destroy evidence of poaching. Two remains were buried in order to avoid detection” he said.
In a letter to union environment and forest minister Jairam Ramesh, Mohanty has demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) alleging that there was an effort by officials to destroy evidence by burning ort burying the bones of the elephants.
“The Ministry should hand over the investigations to CBI since forest department staffs are involved in destruction of evidence which would enabler the poachers to escape” he said.
“Till now no action has been taken against the range officer who stopped the entry of the honorary wildlife warden, when she was discharging her legitimate duties of verifying the poaching reports of elephants inside the park” he said.
The Simlipal National Park in the district of Mayurbhanj is located at the distance of about 320 kms from state captal Bhubaneswar. It is one of the first project tiger reserves in the country. It houses about 500 elephants.