As per orders, the new uniforms have to be sold only in the Army’s unit-run canteens.
Odisha reported as many as 39 cases of poaching in ten years, in which around 50 persons were arrested and chargesheeted, according to the officials. However, none of the poachers arrested for killing elephants in Odisha has been convicted. This is reflection of an exceedingly dismal track record of enforcement of the Wildlife Act.
If the Forest and Environment Minister Pradip Kumar Amat’s reply in the State Assembly on Tuesday is any indication, the state, which is home to 1,976 elephants, 39 cases of poaching were reported in ten years.
However, conservationists differ on the government’s figure. Their contention is that not even a single case has ended in a conviction for more than three decades.
“Not a single poacher or ivory trader has been convicted for the last 33 years. There is a minimum of three-year jail term and a maximum of seven-year imprisonment for killing any elephant since the pachyderm is protected under Schedule-1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Lack of prosecution emboldens the poachers to continue with their killing spree,” said conservationist Biswajit Mohanty.
Poor prosecution rate has, of late, driven the poachers to embark on a killing spree. Since 2022, as many as 11 elephants have been killed by miscreants in the forests of the state, he said.
Because of slack surveillance, watch and vigil by forest personnel, the wild animals in general, and elephants in particular, are becoming soft target of organised poaching rackets active in different parts of the State. The population of wild animals, including elephants, is fast declining as the enforcement agencies have turned a blind eye to the systematic decimation of the mute animals.
Odisha elephants live a life fraught with dangers all the time due to poaching, poisoning, electrocutions, train accidents. The tuskers are always hounded by the forest squads. While the Supreme Court has banned chasing elephants, the order evokes scant regard in the authorities concerned, he said.
Death of 784 elephants has been reported in Odisha in a span of 10 years. Accidents, disease, poisoning by poachers and electrocution were some of the reasons for the elephant deaths in the state, Forest, Environment and Climate Change Minister P K Amat said in the Odisha Assembly on Tuesday.
The man-elephant conflict has resulted in 925 human fatalities as well and attacks by the pachyderm causing permanent disability in 212 people in the state between 2012 and 2022. A highest number of 139 people were killed in elephant attacks in 2020-21, the minister added.