NOIDA: As many as 429 elephants were poached and killed in the country since 2008 and 642 poachers arrested, revealed a data obtained through an RTI query.
In 2008, 53 elephants were killed in the country, but the number came down to only five in 2018 all five in Assam, according to the data provided by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, under the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The maximum killings of 136 elephants have been reported from Kerala, followed by West Bengal (48), Karnataka (46), Tamil Nadu (44) and Odisha (41) during the period, according to the data.
Noida-based lawyer Ranjan Tomar had from the bureau through an RTI query sought state-wise data on the number of elephants killed by poachers in the last 10 years and offenders arrested.
The bureau is a statutory body formed to combat organised wildlife crime in the country.
Notably, there are nine states and Union Territories -- Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Sikkim, Telangana, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli from where no such killings have been reported since 2008, it said.
Tripura recorded only one elephant killing by poachers and that was in 2014, while the Andaman and Nicobar Islands reported six such deaths till 2013 but none since 2014, according to the data.
National capital Delhi reported six elephant killings by poachers two in 2008, one each in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014, it said.
Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand each reported 21 such killings during the period.
"As per data available in records of the bureau based on the information from state forest and police departments, 642 poachers have been arrested for killing elephants during last 10 years," the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau said in its reply to the RTI.
Tomar had also sought to know the elephant census of 2008 and 2018 but the bureau said no such data was maintained by it, neither was information available on the estimated amount of tusks and other elephant body parts recovered from poachers during the period.
"The data shows the number of elephants killed by poachers has been coming down, particularly during the last four-five years, which is a good indication," the 30-year-old social activist told PTI.
"It is essential to save wildlife if we want to protect the environment. Animals like elephants and tigers are critical to our survival because they are on the top of their food chains and losing them could endanger our existence," he added.