Wildlife & Biodiversity

Jumbo graveyard: Odisha registers 282 elephant deaths since 2018

As many as 2 Bengal tigers and 15 leopards also died in the state in the same period  

 
By Ashis Senapati
Published: Wednesday 08 September 2021
Odisha lost 282 elephants in 3 years

A total of 282 elephants died in Odisha from 2018 through August 31, 2021, the state’s forest minister Bikaram Keshari Arukha said September 7.  The highest number of elephant deaths (93) took place in 2018-19, followed by 82 in 2019-20, 77 in 2020-21 and 30 till end of August this year. 

As many as 43 of the pachyderms were electrocuted, seven were killed by poachers 13 were hit by trains, four in road accidents and 59 died in other accidents. The rest succumbed to infections — 18 died of anthrax, six of herpes and 77 of other diseases. As many as 34 elephants died of natural causes and 21 due to unknown reasons. 

The eastern state had 1,976 elephants in 2017, according to the last census. This was an improvement from 1954 in 2015 and 1930 in 2012, the minister noted at the state assembly.

“Odisha’s forest and environment department has selected 14 traditional elephant corridors in the state for smooth movement of the elephants,” he added.

The state also lost two Bengal tigers and 15 leopards in the same period.

One Bengal tiger died of electrocution and another had contracted a disease in 2018-19. 

As many as four leopards died in 2018-19, three in 2019-20 and six in 2020-21, most (five) killed by poachers. One leopard died in a train accident, four died of diseases, two of natural causes and three of unknown reasons. 

The tiger population in Odisha plateaued at 28 between 2014 and 2018, according to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

The number of leopards in the state, however, more than doubled to 760 in that period, according to the NTCA report released December 21, 2020.  

‘Leopards occupy areas vacated by tigers and this is one of the main reasons behind the increasing leopard population in the state, according to LA Singh,  former wildlife research officer. Similipal tiger reserve. 

Leopards also breed more often than tigers and can survive in almost any type of habitat and need less space, he added. Tigers, the biggest of the big cats, thrive in larger forest expanses, said the expert.

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