BHUBANESWAR: The allegation by animal lovers that Odisha is a happy hunting ground for elephant poachers has once again received credence as the state forest department officials on Monday night seized around 19 kg of elephant tusks from a car near Bayapita village under Harichandanpur police limits in Keonjhar district. Three persons, all ivory traders, were arrested in this connection.
According to reports, the officials, acting on a tip-off about the smuggling of the tusks in the car, chased the vehicle and intercepted it near Bayapita village.
On searching the car, the tusks were recovered from the vehicle. The accused were being questioned to ascertain the possible involvement of others in the offence.
According to Dr Biswajit Mohanty, an eminent wildlife activist, poachers are indulging in mindless killing of tuskers in the state to extract their teeth. The state government, on the other hand, has not been able to contain such ghastly act because of inadequate focus on the grave issue.
“Despite Odisha being criticised outside for the rising number of elephant deaths, mostly tuskers, the state forest department has not been able to crack down the poachers and traders. Unless the state government wakes up to nail the poachers, the elephant population here will cease to exist,” said Dr Mohanty.
Although the state government is arresting poachers from time to time, the killers are being acquitted due to the weak investigation process by the forest officials.
Dr Mohanty, who is secretary of Wildlife Society of Odisha, urged the state government to hand over the arrested poachers to the Special Task Force for an effective probe .
Of the 784 elephant deaths in Odisha in the last 10 years and four months, 114 were killed by poachers, primarily for Ivory....