**Bhubaneswar** Notwithstanding the death of 156 elephants in the past two years due to different reasons, the elephant population in Odisha has increased marginally to 1,976 this year from 1,954 recorded in 2015.
The 2017 Elephant Census report released by Forest and Environment Minister Bijayshree Routray on Monday revealed that the number of elephants rose by 22 in the state as against the 2015 census.
The elephant population was 1,930 in 2012.
As per the census, 344 elephants were identified as tuskers and 1,092 as cow elephants. There are 502 young elephants in the state. The Forest Department could not identify the sex of 38 elephants.
In three elephant reserves (Mayurbhanj, Mahanadi and Sambalpur), 1,536 elephants were enumerated, which account for 77.73 per cent of the total elephant population in the state. These areas have seven sanctuaries.
Five other sanctuaries have an elephant population of 79. The Forest Department officials have counted 361 elephants outside the elephant reserves and sanctuaries.
Compared to 2015, the male population is up by three. However, the number of female elephants has decreased by four. The number of young elephants has gone up by 12, said the census report.
The highest number of 330 elephants was found in the Similipal reserve (core areas) while 169 were counted in Dhenkanal division.
The Forest Department engaged 5,847 persons for the census work.