KOCHI: With forest officials finding three more year-old carcasses of tuskers killed for ivory on Wednesday, the impunity with which elephant were being poached in the state, once considered a relatively safe zone for wildlife, has come to light.
While the discovery of around a dozen carcasses and arrest of poachers numbering around 28 point at the alarming magnitude of the wildlife crime, the Forest Department has no clarity on the number of elephants that may have been felled by bullets of poachers.
Speaking to Express Forest Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said it was still not known how many elephants were killed.
“We are still clueless on the number. It can be known only after the end of the ongoing probe as there are several gangs of poachers involved,” he said.
Based on the confession of the poachers, around 28 elephants had been killed in the forests of Kerala bordering two other states, but forest officials could recover carcasses of only a dozen elephants.
Officials in the probe team told Express that the number of elephants killed by poachers would be higher than what was stated by the poachers because at least six poaching gangs were active in the state till recently.
According to forest officials, this is the first time in the recent history of South India that such large scale poaching for ivory in South Indian states has come to light.
Though seizure of ivory was reported from various parts of the state in the last few years at regular intervals, the Forest Department had taken a view that the state, with a reputation of being elephant-friendly, was being used by a transit hub.