Kerala becomes transit hub for ivory (India)


K PRAVEEN KUMAR, Deccan Herald

Date Published
Kozhikode: For the last three years, not a single case of elephant poaching has been registered by the Forest Department. However, in 2013, they  seized nine tusks and two ivory statues, together weighing 88 kg. In 2012 also there were ivory seizures and this year so far, three cases have been reported. Experts in the field point to Kerala becoming a transit hub of ivory smugglers and suggest that ivory from other states is being smuggled in, especially to the State capital, which is traditionally an ivory carving centre. The only other possibility is that the ivory is locally sourced and the Forest Department has failed to register cases.
“Kerala has had no poaching case reported in the last three years but interestingly, there have been several ivory seizure cases. We suspect ivory is being smuggled in to Kerala from other states to Thiruvananthapuram for carving. It is a big racket. Ivory poached in Odisha, Karanataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu could be finding its way to Kerala”, said Tito Joseph, head of data analysis of Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI).
Though several ivory seizures are reported in Kerala, rarely is a case taken to its logical conclusion. The investigation mostly gets restricted to the seizure of the property and also arrest of the agents who handle the property. “Rarely do we get cases that track the source of ivory smuggled to Kerala. The investigation never goes beyond the agents who are used in selling the property. We neither have information about the buyers nor about the original procurers of ivory,” Tito Joseph said.
As per Elephant Poaching statistics available with the Wildlife Protection Society of India, Odisha continues to be the elephant poaching capital of India. When Forest department officials and conservationists have been instrumental in bringing down cases of poaching in other parts of the country, in Odisha it continues unabated. In the last two years 41 elephants were poached in Odisha and this year so far, 11 elephants have been targeted.