The poachers identified, says official
A wild mother elephant and its calf were electrocuted by a trap laid by poachers in a cashew orchard near Kanakhai village under Rambha section of Khallikote forest range in Berhampur forest division in the wee hours of Sunday. The incident occurred within 24 hours of a similar killing of a mother and calf elephant pair by poachers in a cashew orchard near Karadabani in Galeri range of North Ghumusar forest division in Ganjam district.
Khallikote forest ranger Bijay Kumar Hota, who reached the spot to seize the corpses of both pachyderms, said the age of the mother elephant was around 35, while its dead male calf was over two-month old.
According to the post-mortem report, both pachyderms died due to electrocution. But, forest officials did not find any naked wires used for setting electrical traps near the corpses of the elephants.
According to the forest officials, killers of the elephants tried their best to suppress the killings.
The poachers made an attempt to bury the body of the mother elephant. To dump it in a ditch dug by them, they also cut down the legs of the elephant. Body of the elephant calf was found at a distance to 20 metres from that of its mother.
The electric poles were around one km away. So, it was evident that the miscreants had used long cables to illegally hook their naked wire trap to power supply cables. When the poachers found that elephants were killed, they removed the naked wires from the spot.
Berhampur Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Sudhansu Sekhar Mishra said the culprits behind these killings were identified and the wires used for the trap located. The culprits were absconding and the DFO hoped that they would be arrested very soon. He suspected that the poachers had set the trap to kill wild boars and other small animals, but elephants fell prey to the high voltage current passing through the traps.
Mr. Hota suspected that the calf that was killed may be the one that had fallen into a well on October 4 at Kumutibandha in Rambha forest section. It was rescued from the well by five female elephants.
This year, till now five wild elephants were killed in Ganjam district by electrical traps set by poachers. In September, a wild tusker fell prey to a trap laid by poachers in Karachuli forest under Buguda forest range in Ganjam district. Poachers had escaped with half of one tusk of the dead elephant. It was followed by the killing of mother and calf elephants by a similar trap in a cashew orchard in Galeri range of North Ghumusar forest division and recent killings in Khallikote range of Berhampur forest division.
On March 23, 2011, two wild pachyderms were killed in Galeri forest range by poachers. In October 2008, the body of a female wild elephant was recovered near Sanamundia hill of Dimiria panchayat under Khallikote forest range in Ganjam district which was electrocuted to death coming in contact with a similar trap laid by poachers.
Recently some persons involved in laying such traps were nabbed in Digapahandi area of Ganjam district, Mr. Hota said. Power supply cables passing through jungle areas were helping poachers to lay the electrical traps to kill small animals in which wild elephants were getting trapped.