Wildlife & Biodiversity

Global Eco Watch: Carcass of radio transmitter-fitted gharial found in Odisha

Down To Earth brings you the top happenings in the world of global ecology  

By Ashis Senapati
Published: Monday 06 April 2020
The transmitter seen fitted on the tail of the dead gharial. Photo: Ashis Senapati

The carcass of a radio transmitter-fitted 5.4 feet-long female gharial, a highly endangered crocodilian species, has been found in the Luna river, a tributary of the Mahanadi near Jayachandra village in Odisha’s Kendrapara district on April 6, 2020. 

The forest department had fitted radio transmitters on six gharials last year to track their movements in the Mahanadi at Tikarapada.

“Forest officials retrieved the carcass from the water. We suspect the reptile was choked by fishing nets in the river’s deep waters. The carcass was sent to the Nandankanan zoo for autopsy. The autopsy report revealed that the gharial died after suffering serious injuries,” Sudarshan Patra, the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Cuttack, said.

Forest officials had counted only 14 gharials (Gavialis gangeticus) in the 2019 census of the species in Satakosia gorge within Tikarpada under Mahanadi river system in Angul district. 

Lockdown: Tusker ventures into Odisha town, kills four 

Due to a lack of activity in human settlements during the nationwide lockdown in the wake of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), an elephant entered Padmapur town in Odisha’s Baragarh district and killed four persons including three members of a family on the wee hours of April 6, 2020.

The deceased, identified as Dwarikanath Pande, his son Malai Pande and grandson Chintu Pande, of Padmapur town were attacked by the elephant when they were sleeping in their house in the wee hours of April 6. The elephant damaged the house and ate paddy as the house owner had heaped paddy bags on the veranda of the house.

The fourth victim, Hemsagar Sahoo of Banjhenmunda village, was trampled to death when the tusker was on its way towards the Gandhamardan forest range.

“This is for the first time an elephant has entered Padmapur town. It was probably due to the lockdown that the animal did not face any obstacles en route,” Pramod Kumar Sahu, the forest range officer of Padmapur, said.

The incident comes a week after another elephant killed three persons in the neighbouring Sambalpur district on March 31, 2020, also during the lockdown.

Lockdown: Wild animals freely roam Bihar’s forests and fields

Wild animals are freely roaming human settlements in Bihar as people stay inside their homes due to the 21-day nationwide lockdown in the wake of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

A leopard has been spotted roaming in an Indian Air Force base near Patna. Nilgai antelope have been spotted in wheat and maize fields of Bakhtiarpur and Bhojpur. And an old, male tiger has made a 150-kilometre-long journey from Madhya Pradesh to take up residence in the state’s Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary.

“It seems animals are experiencing a new kind of freedom due to the absence of humans at this time and are walking on the streets or main roads,” Arvind Mishra, environmentalist, said.

“Their intrusion into human settlements could lead to human-animal conflicts after the lockdown is lifted. However, the animals will move into their original habitats once the humans come out,” Mishra explained. 

Leopard killed, skinned amid lockdown in Kashmir

Villagers in the southern Kulgam district of Kashmir, some 100 kilometres south of Jammu & Kashmir’s summer capital, Srinagar, killed a leopard after the wild cat attacked people and injured several of them on April 2, 2020.

On April 3, an image appeared on social media in which three men could be seen skinning the animal.

The leopard was killed after it entered a village in the Manzgam area of Kulgam and attacked several men and women, Deputy Commissioner of Kulgam, Showkat Aijaz Bhat, said.

The leopard injured eight people after which it was attacked and killed by a mob of villagers, police officials said. All eight injured persons have been taken to a local hospital for treatment, the officials said.

“The village is very close to the forest and has been known for human-animal conflict for years. The villagers have apparently killed the animal to avenge the injuries to so many people. But killing the animal should have been avoided,” Bhat said.

The district administration and wildlife department has registered an FIR against those who attacked and killed the animal, Bhat added.

US tiger coronavirus positive; wildlife and zoo alert in India

The Union government has asked the Chief Wildlife Wardens (CWWs) of all states to be on high alert, after a four-year-old Malayan tiger at Bronx zoo in New York, United States was found to have the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on April 5, 2020.

All animals were to be watched round the clock for any abnormal behaviour, said separate advisories by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) and the wildlife division of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), on April 5.

“Zoo keepers/handlers are not to be allowed in the vicinity without safety gear, preferably Personal Protective Equipment,” said a letter, written by SP Yadav, member secretary of the CZA.

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