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Simlipal: Staff burnt elephant carcasses to destroy evidence

Field staff of Simlipal Tiger Reserve,the fourth-largest tiger reserve in the country,burnt a large number of elephant carcasses to remove any evidences of poaching,a probe committee of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has found. After a number of elephant deaths were reported in April and May 2010,the NTCA constituted an independent assessment team comprising […]

Written by Debabrata Mohanty | Bhubaneswar |
August 2, 2010 4:22:37 am

Field staff of Simlipal Tiger Reserve,the fourth-largest tiger reserve in the country,burnt a large number of elephant carcasses to remove any evidences of poaching,a probe committee of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has found.

After a number of elephant deaths were reported in April and May 2010,the NTCA constituted an independent assessment team comprising wildlife activists Belinda Wright and Biswajit Mohanty,who visited Simlipal between June 6 and 11. The team confirmed 14 elephant deaths,all of which have most likely been killed by poachers.

The team,which submitted its report in June,has said that of the seven elephant deaths it analysed,there is enough evidence to suggest that field staff were involved in the concealment of some of the deaths.

“The carcasses of the seven dead elephants that were found in Simlipal in April and May 2010,had already been burnt and destroyed,in some cases illegally by department personnel. There was a concerted effort to destroy the remains of at least two of the elephant carcasses,and perhaps more,which amounts to destruction of evidence without registering a case,” the team said in its report. “Unless accountability is fixed for this,the situation in Simlipal can never improve. We recommend that the state government should take strong action as per service rules against these field staff.”

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Expressing its shock over the burning of a large number of elephant carcasses,the committee said the “poachers would obviously not have done it”. “In the case of two of the elephant carcasses,there is clear evidence that the burning was done by forest staff,without reporting the incidents and in order to remove evidence of poaching in their ranges. It can be presumed that forest staff may also have been responsible for the burning of another elephant carcass,and perhaps the shifting of other carcasses and bones. Again there is no motive for poachers,or anyone else,to have done this.”

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