Although India has put a ban on ivory trade, recent raids suggest that there has been a resurgence in the illegal poaching of elephants. If things continue the way they are, elephants might become a thing of the past in India. What has put the wildlife control agencies and the NGOs in shock is that the poaching is being carried out for the ‘domestic ivory market’. The tusks used to be exported to China, Japan and Thailand (countries with a high demand for ‘raw and finished’ tusk products), but now there seems to be a market for such products developing in the country itself.
Talking to Mail Today, a senior MoEF official confirms, “At least four major raids had been conducted in the past 6-8 months in several states, including Maharashtra and Kerala, which yielded about 13 kg of the contraband. These were based on the information provided by Umesh Aggarwal.”
Umesh Aggarwal was a businessman based in Laxmi Nagar, East Delhi who was arrested by the Kerala Forest Department in October of 2015. 487 kilos of ivory which is approximately worth 12 crores in the black market was seized from him. Since then, he’s been helping officials arrest others responsible for poaching in the country. Based on his tips, as many as 90 poachers have been arrested.
It is known that the Chinese and the Japanese use these tusks to make figures of Buddha and other deities. What is scary is that this is now being made in India for Indian customers. Experts believe it’s the high profile bureaucrats, ministers, politicians, royal families and other celebrities who are to be blamed for the rise of the illegal, as it’s only them who can afford such a product.
Elephants are generally shot dead for their tusks which can be as long as 10 feet in length. As many as 85 elephants have been poached for ivory in the last 3 years, confirms the Minister for Environment and Forests, with the maximum number of cases coming in from Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. Elephants fall under the list of “most endangered animals”, and are protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. Killing or taking its ivory is punishable with 3 years in prison and Rs 50,000 fine. Currently, there are only 30,000 tuskers left in the wild and if things continue the way they are, Google might become the only option for our children to see what an elephant looks like. Sad.