NEW DELHI: As per the Union ministry’s data, on an average, one elephant is killed every four days either due to poisoning, train accident, poaching or electrocution. Not much to cheer about in a country which ironically is home to the largest number of Asian elephants in the world.
As per the data, 655 elephants died across India between 2009 and 2016. This means, every month about seven elephants were killed—one every four days. The total number of deaths could be as high as 700 as some elephant-range states are yet to give their data for 2016-17.
The period of 2012-13 was the deadliest with 105 deaths. Of the 655 deaths, highest 390—nearly 60 per cent—died due to electrocution followed by 120 in train accidents, 101 due to poaching, and 44 owing to poisoning.
Odisha with 145 dead elephants had most deaths in eight years and it was followed by Assam and Karnataka with 126 and 97 deaths respectively.
India recently witnessed a 10 per cent decline in the overall population of elephants. The 2017 elephant Census, which was released in August, estimated elephant population at 27,312 compared to about 30,000 in 2012.Loss and degradation of wildlife habitats are increasing the animal-human conflict. Centre as well as the state governments have been claiming that efforts are being made to tackle it but not much has been achieved.
“With degrading forest, there is a pressure on elephants to come out of thick forest for food, water, mating and other needs. When they step into human habitation, they fall prey to poisoning, electrocution and poaching. Government has taken measures to bring down incidents of animal-human conflict but these cannot be totally stopped,” said R K Srivastava, director, Project Elephant, Ministry of Environment and Forests.
To protect the jumbos, India had started ‘Project Elephant’ in 1992 and since then the government has been counting the elephant population every four to five years. Elephants are India’s heritage animals. At present, India has 29 elephant reserves across the country covering over 65,000 sq km.