Male elephants depleting in Odisha: Wildlife Society

The pressure group says Ganjam district could be left with only one male elephant

The pressure group says Ganjam district could be left with only one male elephant

Wildlife Society of Odisha (WSO), a wildlife pressure group, on Friday, raised alarm over the rapid depletion of male elephants, critical for sustainability of healthy elephant population in Odisha.

Out of a total of 1,976 jumbos counted in 2017 elephant census, 344 were found to be adult males. “Since then, in a little over five years, Odisha has lost 104 male elephants over the age of 15, mostly to poaching and unnatural deaths like electrocution, poisoning, train and road accidents,” says WSO analysis.

Stating that for the health and sustainability of an elephant population, the presence of adult bull elephants, between the age of 18 and 20, is a necessity, WSO Secretary Biswajit Mohanty said, “On an average, we lose over 20 adult elephants per year. . At this rate, we may see Odisha’s elephant population rapidly getting wiped out from many elephant landscapes. Some of the districts like Ganjam, Khurda, Kalahandi, Boudh and Subarnapur could already be facing such a situation.”

“Like most living beings including humans, the elephants must have matured, and healthy parents to produce offspring who are strong, immune to diseases, and can survive the tough living conditions in the wild. Poaching and unnatural deaths of adult breeding males in large numbers, has created a skewed male-female ratio in Odisha. This would obviously lead to a decline in birth rate,” he pointed out.

Mr. Mohanty elaborated that adult males migrate longer distances, sometimes all alone, mix and mingle with other herds and create fresh gene pools. “Their absence in a herd, will also lead to inbreeding among immature males and females, resulting in weak offspring and immature mortality,” he said, adding that studies had shown that an extremely low number of adult male population could also lead to barren adult females having failed to procreate for a long time.

Wiped out

The WSO analyzed the situation of southern Odisha district of Ganjam, where male elephants were believed to have been wiped out.

“Ganjam has lost almost all adult males in the last five years. The district appears to have already reached a critical stage after one of the last adult male elephants was found dead, in Jaganathprasad Range of Ghumsur North Division, on July 20, 2022. There could just be one adult male in the Ghumsur Division,” said WSO chief.

“As many as 10 out of 11 adult males in Ganjam have already died. Serious concerns are there on the sustainability of the elephant population in this district, since there could only be one adult male. He faces a daily threat of electrocution and poaching since the patrolling and protection system of the forest department has collapsed, due to lack of supervision and accountability,” he alerted.

According to WSO, it has been observed that the Ghumsur elephant population have largely kept themselves confined to the geography of the two divisions, hence, chances of meeting and mating adult males from adjacent districts, is remote, as of now. If the remaining male also falls prey to poaching or electrocution, it could spell doom for Ganjam elephants, it said.

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“Ganjam has lost almost all adult males in the last five years”Biswajit MohantyWSO Secretary

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