Odisha’s elephant population grows by 122 over seven years

A substantial increase of 40% in the population of tuskers has been recorded

Published - June 06, 2024 07:11 am IST - BHUBANESWAR

Odisha’s elephant population has increased marginally by 122, from 1,976 in 2017 to 2,098 in 2024. 

Odisha’s elephant population has increased marginally by 122, from 1,976 in 2017 to 2,098 in 2024.  | Photo Credit: BISWARANJAN ROUT

Odisha’s elephant population has increased marginally by 122, from 1,976 in 2017 to 2,098 in 2024.

The All-Odisha Elephant Census-2024 which was released on June 5, says a total of 2,098 elephants were found in 38 forest divisions. These elephants include 313 adult tuskers, 13 adult makhnas, 748 adult females, 148 sub-adult males, 282 sub-adult females, 209 juveniles, and 385 calves. It says there were no elephants in 13 divisions.

The last elephant census was carried out in 2017, when 1,976 elephants were counted, including 212 adult tuskers, 10 adult makhnas, 816 adult females, 122 sub-adult males, 276 sub-adult females, 38 of unknown sex, 203 juveniles, and 299 calves.

“There is a marginal increase in elephant numbers in the State. But a significant increase in numbers has been noticed in a few divisions such as Angul, Athagarh, Dhenkanal, Baripada, Chandaka, Khordha, Bonai, and Keonjhar,” said Sushant Nanda, Principal Chief Wildlife Warden.

The report suggests a fall in population in Similipal North, Similipal South, Balasore, Rairangpur, Balangir, Parlakhemundi, and a few other divisions.

“This may be due to an overall change in the movement patterns of the elephants in line with their foraging habits and a change in land use patterns. A significant change in movement patterns was noticed in Angul, Rourkela, and Baripada Circle,” Mr. Nanda said, quoting the report.

Increase in tuskers

“There has been a 40% increase in the population of tuskers over the last seven years. This has created a healthy ratio of adult males and females and also a significant number of young ones in the entire population,” the official said.

“A total of 584 elephants were counted in three elephant reserves, which is about 28% of the total elephant population of the State. Odisha now has a large, well established elephant population with a stable age distribution and a growth rate of around 3%,” the report says.

Elephant deaths during the last five years have been within a range of 3% to 4.5% of the total population, the least being during the last financial year of 2023–24..

It is estimated that 2,100–2,200 elephants use the Odisha forests in a year, as there is interstate migration from Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and West Bengal.

A survey has been proposed from November 14 to 15, coinciding with the migration from adjoining States during kharif harvesting, to ascertain the maximum population using Odisha’s terrain.

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