KOCHI: With forest officials locating three more year-old carcasses of tuskers killed for ivory on Wednesday, the impunity with which elephant poaching was being carried out in the state, once considered a relatively safe zone for wildlife, has come to light.
While the discovery of around a dozen carcases and arrest of poachers numbering around 28 points at the alarming magnitude of the wildlife crime, the Forest Department has no clarity on the number of elephants that may have been felled by poachers.
Speaking to ‘Express’ Forest Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said it is still not known how many elephants were killed. “We are still clueless on the number. It can be known only after the end of the ongoing investigation as there are several gangs involved,” he said.
Based on the confession of the poachers, around 28 elephants have been killed in the forests of Kerala bordering two other states, but forest officials could recover carcasses of only a dozen elephants.
Officials in the probe team told ‘Express’ that the number of elephants killed by poachers would be higher because at least six poaching gangs were active in the state till recently.
Though seizure of ivory was reported from various parts of the state over the past few years in regular intervals, the Forest Department had taken a view that the state, with a reputation of being elephant-friendly, was being used by a transit hub. The recent developments has forced the Forest Department to re-investigate deaths of elephants recorded as normal. The Department is planning to investigate at least 90 such deaths. Animal right activists had alleged that the poachers had killed at least 200 elephants.