WSO: Elephant landscape witnessing dramatic change in Odisha

According to the Wildlife Society of Orissa (WSO), the elephant landscape in Odisha has undergone a dramatic change because of mindless mining and unplanned developmental activities.

Key Points

  • According to WSO, elephant landscape has changed dramatically in last two decades.
  • In Keonjhar district of Odisha, there were 112 elephants in 2002. Now, it has only 40 elephants due to large-scale mining.
  • Recently, in last 20 days of July-August, five elephants were found dead in Keonjhar forest division.
  • Dhenkanal district had 81 elephants in 2002 which has increased to 169. Many elephants are getting trapped in the Rengali irrigation canals.
  • On the similar lines, 70 elephants from Chandaka sanctuary have abandoned the area and have migrated to Nayagarh, Ganjam and Cuttack districts. Many of them were killed by trains or due to electrocution in Ganjam.
  • Around 20 adult breeding male elephants die per year, mostly because of poaching and electrocution.

Why elephants are getting distressed in state?

Instance of the distressed elephants in Odisha has gone up with time because their habitats and paths are continuously encroached upon for farming, mining, industries and urbanisation. In the districts like Keonjhar, Sundargarh, Jharsuguda and Angul, elephants lost their habitats due to rampant mining.

Elephant count in state

State had 2,044 elephants in Odisha in the year 1979. But as per census 2017, their numbers have reduced to 1976 as they were compelled to leave native forests. Now, elephants are restricted to 26 districts out of 30 districts. 2017 census highlights that, 344 out of 1,976 elephant population were male.

Status of elephant corridors

Most of the elephant corridors and reserve plans are only confined to paper. Traditional elephant corridors have been degraded that has restricted their migration. In 2010, Fourteen elephant corridors were officially identified covering over 870 sq. km.

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