Resentment Brews Over Shifting Of Similipal Kumki Elephants To Satkosia

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Bhubaneswar: While environmentalists are against shifting of two kumki (trained elephants) from Similipal National Park in Mayurbhanj district to Satkosia Tiger Reserve in Angul district for re-stalking and monitoring the movement of tigress Sundari, the contradictory statements of Similipal forest officials and the PCCF and Chief Wildlife Warden have raised doubts on the clarity of the stand taken by the Forest Department on this matter.

On the shifting of the two trained elephantsMahendra and Rajkumar from Similipal, environmentalists opined that since Mahendra is over 50 years of age with poor eyesight and Rajkumar, who is only 14 years old, lacks exposure to tiger tracking, they would not be able to give adequate protection to the tigress in Satkosia.

They further said that if the Similipal forest officials claim that these two trained elephants are fit enough to give protection to the tigers, then why they are being shifted to Satkosia to give protection to one tigress, ignoring the safety of about 40 tigers in the Similipal National Park?

“Besides, the Similipal forest officials had earlier engaged Mahendra in Satkosia sanctuary. However, his health had then deteriorated as there was no enough food for him in the sanctuary. Later, the Forest Department had to take him back to the Similipal. Taking all these aspects into consideration, why the Similipal officials have again shifted these two trained elephants to Satkosia?” they argued.

The environmentalists have also said that prior to the shifting of these two trained elephants, the Similipal forest officials have neither discussed with them nor the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) and Regional Chief Conservator of Forest (RCCF). “They might have taken the decision overnight to appease the senior officials,” they pointed out.

Meanwhile, briefing the media here, PCCF and Chief Wildlife Warden, Sandip Tripathy made it clear that there was no reason to link the two trained elephants with the tigress Sundari.

“The two trained elephants have been brought to Satkosia to provide protection to the people residing in and the periphery of the sanctuary,” he said, adding that no decision has been taken to release the tigress from the enclosure.

Prior to the statement of the Chief Wildlife Warden, deputy director, Similipal National Park, Jagnadutta Pati had informed the media that on the directive of the PCCF and Chief Wildlife Warden, the two trained elephants have been shifted to the Satkosia Tiger Reserve this morning. These two elephants, who were engaged in the active tiger monitoring in Similipal, will keep a watch on tigress Sundari.

The two elephants will be brought back to Similipal soon, he added.

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