The HC said the committee will intervene in not just elephant poaching cases, but also other wildlife animals like tiger and pangolin trading
Orissa HC approves constitution of task force to curb elephant poaching
The Orissa high court on Thursday approved constitution of a joint task force comprising members of forest department, Odisha police and a wildlife activist that would recommend suitable criminal provisions to be applied on persons involved in elephant poaching.
Hearing a PIL filed by a Cuttack-based wildlife activist seeking amendment to the Wildlife (Protection Act), 1972 on the lines of the Wildlife (Protection) (Assam Amendment) Act 2009 to add more teeth to wildlife crime control efforts, the two-judge bench of chief justice S Muralidhar and justice RK Patnaik took note of the affidavit filed by the state DGP which suggested formation of a task force comprising police officials and wildlife experts.
The HC said the committee will intervene in not just elephant poaching cases, but also other wildlife animals like tiger and pangolin trading.
As forest officials were not empowered to book wildlife offenders under Indian Penal Code (IPL), the committee will suggest IPC provisions that needs to be applied on the offenders.
The HC also gave nod to the constitution of an advocate committee who will put forward their suggestions regarding prevention of elephant deaths in the state.
The next hearing on this matter will be held on September 26.
The state police will present facts and figures on elephant deaths in the next hearing.
Though the state government told the court that necessary steps will be taken in the next three months including filing of chargesheets, the bench expressed its dissatisfaction saying the actions were more remedial than preventive.
Odisha registered 14 cases of unnatural deaths of elephants in forests in the past two months making it the biggest casualty of the pachyderms in a short span in more than a decade.
Of the 14, at least six deaths are due to poaching, including that of a 40-year-old tusker whose decomposed carcass with gunshot injuries was found from a cashew orchard in the Jagannath Prasad forest range in Ghumsur North Division of Ganjam district late last month.
The HC also took note of the death of two female elephants due to electrocution on premises of OUAT campus in Keonjhar district on Thursday morning.
It directed the forest department to inform the court about circumstances under which the electrocution deaths occurred.
The two elephants, about 25-year-old, were part of a group of nine elephants roaming in Judia of the Sanaghagara forest area.
On Thursday morning, the group entered the OUAT premises and came in contact with 11kv wire which led to their death. Both were females and had given birth to two calves less than a month back.
Odisha reports one of the highest numbers of elephant deaths due to electrocution in the country.