Over 50% elephants die before puberty: Study (India)


Priyangi Argawal, Times of India

Date Published

Bareilly: High mortality of Indian elephants before puberty is worrying experts. According to a study, over 50% of Indian elephants are dying before puberty. To discuss the matter, a two-day international symposium on ‘Ecology and Health Management of Asiatic Elephant’ will be organized in the national capital.

A report will then be submitted to the union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF). The symposium will be organized by Association of Indian Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians (AIZWV) on November 19 and 20 and is being sponsored by directorate of project elephant, MoEF and Climate Change and Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

The organizing secretary of the event and president of AIZWV, BM Arora, is a former principal scientist and wildlife in charge of IVRI, Bareilly. He said more than 50% Indian elephants die before puberty (age 15 and above) while the average lifespan of an elephant is about 70-80 years.

Arora, in his paper titled, ‘Study and evaluation of elephant mortality in Elephant Reserves — An overview of species health status’ observed that 66% of elephants in West Bengal, 61% in Assam, 57.5% in Odisha, 55.6 % in Kerala, 55.28% in Tamil Nadu, 49% in Uttarakhand and 42% in Karnataka died in the age between a-day-old to 15 years.

“We need to find the exact cause on why this is happening. Deaths are usually explained as caused by man-animal conflict but all elephants cannot die because of this. Even so-called ‘natural deaths’ are high, and there is a need to find the reasons for this. We have to focus on correct diagnosis of elephants to know the specific cause behind their deaths,” said Arora.

He added that in the records of the forest department, the nature of death is mentioned as diseases and disorders in few cases but there is no description of type of disease or disorder is given.

Besides, with nearly 350 persons dying every year in the country due to human-elephant conflict, the experts will also try to find permanent solution for conservation of elephants and ensure income and life of villagers is not comprmised. “Though temporary solutions are available for animal-human conflict, there is an urgent requirement to come up with a permanent solution to this problem,” said Arora.

He added that in 2013-14, as many as 80 people in Assam, 67 each in Odisha and West Bengal, 45 in Tamil Nadu, 38 in Karnataka and seven in Kerala died in human-elephant conflict. “The data of people lost their lives due to animal-human conflict is much higher but I have figures of just a few states,” said Arora.

The symposium will be attended by experts, including senior forest officials, veterinarian, biologist, NGOs and wildlife journalists from across the world. After the discussion held in symposium, a report will be submitted to MoEF for adopting their suggestions.