Murder by neglect



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The sordid neglect of animals in the Forest and wildlife department was exposed last Saturday after the death of the female elephant from Chandka elephant reserve.

The elephant had sustained three bullet injuries on her body on Wednesday last and since them it was left in gruelling pain in the jungle. Neither the forest nor the Chandka Wildlife Division people reached with the required medical help to treat the elephant that was battling for life for over 72 hours.

Despite the three bullet injuries on her body the pachyderm was making movements here and there, undoubtedly waiting for succour from some one. Despite the oozing blood from the wounds and the animal's restless dispositions, there was absolutely no attempt from the DFO office to do the needful.

It is quite incomprehensible as what compelled the Division office to hold off all actions to save the injured animal.

"It is a case of sheer callous disregard else the elephant could have been cured had medical help reached in time," said one Wildlife official, who sought anonymity, adding that "it was the prime duty of the Chandka Wildlife Division DFO to reach the spot on the very first day and start the medical aid when the wounds were fresh."

Chandka wildlife division office – situated hardly 30 kms away from the spot of the incident – went into a state of complacency for four days, completely disregarding the sensitivities they are supposed to maintain for the wildlife species. The most shocking part of this tragic incident is that the Divisional Forest Officer of the Chandka elephant reserve was ensconced in his posh office on the outskirts of the city and did not visit the spot nor any medical team was rushed from Bhubaneswar.

The only consolation that was the visible concern for the injured elephant by two other wild elephants who were on guard to protect the elephant round the clock. It seems the animals have demonstrated the sensitivity which the Forest department clearly lacked.

Chandka elephant reserve is fast losing its grace because of its inability to manage wildlife. The Division is laying more emphasis on tourism of the Reserve while, 35 out of total 65 wild elephants of the sanctuary have strayed from the reserve and are becoming easy targets of poachers and unscrupulous people.

Though more than Rs.30 lakhs have been spent on civil constructions inside the sanctuary to build guest houses and other tourist facilities, not a single penny goes towards fodder farming or corridor restoration for the elephants. The recent allocation of about Rs.58 crore by the state to add new impetus to the conservation of elephants sounds hollow in the face of ground realities.

Within the last 6 months five elephants strayed from the Chandka Elephant Reserve have been killed either by electrocution or by bullets. And this was the sixth one which was allowed to die. The neglect which caused the death of the elephant was committed by the Chandka Wildlife Division and the latter owes an explanation to the people of the state rued Biswajit Mohanty, a wildlife activist.