Baripada (Orissa), Feb 15 (PTI) At least three elephants,including a tusker, were suspected to have been poisoned bypoachers at the Similipal forests here, official sources saidtoday.
The carcasses were yesterday recovered near the bank ofPalpala river flowing through the core area of SimilipalNational Park, they said.
"Preliminary investigation revealed the elephants werekilled by poisoning at the salt pit," field director ofSimilipal Tiger Reserve (STR), Hari Shankar Upadhay said.
Though there were salt pits set by forest workers in thecore area, the jumbos might have consumed salted mud at pitssuspected to have been dug by poachers, he said, adding thatpoachers failed to remove the tusks.
The jumbos are believed to be about 15 years old, hesaid. Postmortem were conducted on the carcasses. "We will beable to tell the exact cause of death after getting theautopsy report," he said.
Meanwhile, the forensic team of state police rushed toDhuduruchampa and Pithabata ranges to monitor the situation.
The incident comes after the killing of 10 jumbos atSimilipal forests last year. While NGOs alleged that at least13 elephants were killed by poachers last year, a central teamdeputed by ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) confirmedthat 10 jumbos were killed in April, 2010.
Similipal forest which housed 551 elephants had virtuallyemerged as the killing fields of the big animals, wildlifeactivist Biswajit Mohanty alleged in a letter to UnionEnvironment minister Jairam Ramesh.
Holding state government officials responsible for thespurt in elephant killings, he said that NTCA (National TigerConservation Authority) which was set up in July, 2010, was"not functioning at the STR."
"The future of Similipal''s tigers, elephants and otherwildlife hangs in precarious balance and I am sure the worldis watching how MoEF responds to this crisis," Mohanty said inhis letter.