Kerala lost 106 elephants in 9 months: Study (India)


Bosco Dominique, Times of India

Date Published
PUDUCHERRY : A total of 106 elephants, including 21 captive jumbos have died owing to various reasons in the last nine months in Kerala, said Chennai-based C P R Environmental Education Centre director Nanditha Krishna quoting a study undertaken by Kerala-based Heritage Animal Task Force.
She was participating in a panel discussion on ‘Climate change and human-wildlife interaction’ organised by New Delhi-based Centre for Media Studies in association with the Union and Puducherry governments. She said 19 of the captive elephants that died were young males. Poaching for ivory, poor execution of projects aimed at protecting wild and captive elephants and violation of animal rights laws are being cited as reasons for the high casualty.
Thrissur, known for its Pooram festival during which a large number of caparisoned elephants are paraded, accounted for most of the deaths of captive elephants. Loss of habitat and decreasing vegetation also contribute to casualty among wild elephants.
“Indian elephants occupy only 4.77% of 1.1 lakh square km of India’s total geographical area that comes under protected area network. Elephants require connectivity in their habitat not only for foraging but also for uninterrupted gene flow to prevent inbreeding,” Nanditha, who is also Humane Society International chairperson, said.
She charged that elephants were smuggled from Assam to other parts of the country after the Supreme Court banned use of the animal for logging.
The number of Indian elephants in the wild has been roughly estimated to be 25,600 to 32,750 and the number of elephants in captivity in India is between 3,400 and 3,600. Asian elephants were declared an endangered species in 1986. Since then, their population has dwindled by 50%.