Female elephant killed, another hurt as speeding truck hits them in Odisha’s Dhenkanal
A sub-adult female elephant was killed and another tusker seriously injured after they were run over by a speeding truck on National Highway 55 in Dhenkanal district on Thursday.
The accident occurred when three elephants were crossing the National Highway 55 at Jeevankhol Ashram under the Sadar forest range of Dhenkanal early this morning.
Dhenkanal divisional forest officer BP Acharya said the accident occurred at the spot marked as ‘Elephant Crossing Zone’ by the forest department so that vehicles can slow down to allow the elephants to cross without any danger. “Our officials were at the spot helping the herd of elephants cross the NH when the truck ran them over,” said Acharya.
A female elephant in the herd was mauled by the speeding vehicle and got stuck between the wheels. It took a crane to extricate the dead elephant from under the truck. The speeding truck also broke one of the tusks of the elephant. Forest officials said the tusker appears to have been critically injured and all efforts were on to locate the other injured pachyderm. The driver of the truck allegedly fled from the spot.
In 2019-20, 62 elephants have died in the state due to various causes including poaching or speeding vehicles. The human casualty due to man-elephant conflict has reached an all-time high of 104.
In August last year, 3 elephants including a calf were killed after being hit by a bus and two iron ore-laden trucks in the mineral-rich Keonjhar district of Odisha.
Wildlife conservationists alleged that the profusion of stone quarries in Dhenkanal were forcing the elephants to flee resulting in such deaths. “The elephants in Dhenkanal are being forced to use the NH while searching for water as over 100 stone quarries are causing huge stress to them,” said wildlife conservationist Biswajit Mohanty.