Even though the World Environment Day was observed on June 5, wildlife crimes like unbridled poaching of protected animals like elephants, leopards and porcupines are being carried out in the forests under the Khordha Forest Division in an unholy nexus between some dubious forest officials and wildlife mafia.
A Nayagarh resident, Srikanta Dash, in a petition to the Crime Branch (CB) ADG has requested a probe by the premier investigating agency into the increase in wildlife crimes in the division to protect the ecosystems and the endangered wildlife species.
Dash alleged that in six months as many as eight elephants and one leopard have been hunted down by the mafia in the Khordha division but the Forest Department has remained a mute spectator instead of combating the spiralling wildlife crimes.
To make matters worse Khordha DFO Sudeep Nayak is dishing out fabricated reports to his seniors and even trying to tamper with the evidence of the crimes. it might be mentioned here that during his tenure in Hirakhud Wildlife Division, Sambalpur a Royal Bengal Tiger was illegally hunted down by the mafia. When the fact was detected Nayak was shifted to the Khordha Forest Division, stated Dash.
The villagers of Bherupada under the Ranapur Forest range in the Nayagarh district on April 13, 2020 informed the forest officials that body parts of a leopard are lying in the Maninag Reserve Forest. The Khordha DFO, under whose jurisdiction the reserve forest comes, went to the spot and instructed the staffs to collect the body parts but asked them not to reveal the matter to anyone. He asked the Range Officer to put sand on the spot and burn the area on the guise of cleaning the forest growth so in case there is an inquiry in future no evidence is left, stated Dash.
On April 17, 2020 Campaign for Environment Protection member Shiba Prasad Panda had lodged a FIR in the Ranapur police station regarding hushing up of an elephant poaching case detected on April 7, 2020. But no action was taken.
However, the petitioner Dash requested the Crime Branch to inquire into the matter to detect the offenders and take appropriate action. Dash also urged the State Government to transfer the Khordha DFO and other concerned officials so that they are not able to influence the inquiry.
Notably, wildlife crime is a pervasive problem damaging ecosystems, impacting food security and affecting livelihoods of rural communities.