A Right to Information (RTI) activist from Tenkasi in Tamil Nadu, R. Pandiraja said that 93 wild elephants were electrocuted in the state in the last ten years up to December 2020. He said that he received a reply to his query from K. Muthamizh Selvan, Scientist D (Project Elephant) in the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
Pandiraja told IANS: “While 93 wild elephants were electrocuted to death in Tamil Nadu in the last ten years up to December 2020, the national statistics are very disturbing and according to the reply to my RTI query, 1,160 wild elephants died due to various reasons across the country.”
The RTI activist, who is also an animal rights activist, said that the loss of lives of wild elephants will alter the ecology of the forests in the country and that the Department of Forests and Wildlife of the Union Government must make more efforts to prevent elephants and other wild animals from getting killed.
R. Pandiaraja said that a total of 186 wild elephants were killed after being hit by speeding trains across the country in the last ten years till December 31, 2020. He said that of this Assam recorded the highest with 62 elephant deaths while in Tamil Nadu five elephants were killed after being hit by trains.
A total of 741 wild elephants were electrocuted in the country in the last ten years, of which Odisha recorded the maximum deaths at 133. In Tamil Nadu, 93 elephants were killed by electrocution.
As many as 169 elephants were hunted down and poached of which again Odisha tops the list with 49 poaching deaths while in Tamil Nadu, nine elephants were killed by hunters.
Pandiaraja said that 32 elephants were poisoned to death in Assam and in Tamil Nadu, one elephant died due to poisoning. He also said that the Ministry of Environment and Forests had spent Rs 212.5 crore in the last ten years for the conservation of elephants.
The RTI activist who is also a researcher on the ecosystem of wild animals said that the 2017 census revealed that there were 29,964 wild elephants in the country. Karnataka tops the list with 6,049 elephants while Tamil Nadu has 2,761 elephants.
Pandiaraja told IANS: “It is saddening to note that several wild elephants are losing their lives due to callous and negligent behaviour of humans. The recent mowing down of three elephants including two female elephants in the Kanjikode- Madhukkara sector by the Mangalore -Chennai Express train is tragic. If the Railways had been a little more careful, we could have saved the lives of these animals that play a significant role in maintaining the ecological balance.”