Forest guard shot dead by poachers in Odisha’s Similipal Tiger Reserve

The tiger reserve was recently in news for incidents of elephant poaching, forest officials’ attempts to cover it up

May 24, 2023 03:21 am | Updated 03:21 am IST - BHUBANESWAR

An on-duty forest guard in Odisha’s Similipal Tiger Reserve was killed by poachers on Monday night.

The forest guard has been identified as Bimal Kumar Jena, 35, posted in the Baunsakhal beat of the Nawna range of the tiger reserve.

Jena and team were patrolling the border areas of Pithabata South and Nawna North range, when they stumbled upon the poachers. In the scuffle that followed, Jena was shot in the chest and died on the spot.

The Forest Department has identified 10 suspects, two of whom have already been arrested. A country-made pistol was seized.

Similipal’s Regional Chief Conservator of Forest, Prakash Chand Gogineni, said joint teams of police and forest officers had launched a combing operation to nab the culprits.

“Saddened to share that forest guard Bimal Kumar Jena was killed by poachers in the Similipal Tiger Reserve of Odisha. Jena died in the line of duty trying to protect India’s wildlife. We remain indebted for his sacrifice. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” tweeted Union Minister for Environment and Forests, and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav.

The forest guard’s death has heaped more disrepute on Similpal over poaching-related incidents. Last December, three forest officials were arrested over their attempts to destroy evidence of elephant poaching in Similipal, where 11 elephant deaths have been reported since 2019. Many deaths were said to be unnatural.

Incidentally, Orissa High Court, taking a strong view on poaching incidents in Similipal, directed the State Forest and Environment Department to spell out a preventative action plan to stop such cases. Despite the presence of a joint action force, the incidents of elephant deaths and alleged poachings continue unabated.

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