India lost 49 elephants to hunters in 2021: RTI reply

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NOIDA: As many as 49 elephants were killed across the country by hunters in 2021, with law-enforcement agencies arresting 77 accused, a Central government agency said in response to an RTI query.

The maximum killings were recorded in Assam (9) followed by West Bengal, Odisha and Tamil Nadu (8 each), Karnataka and Uttarakhand (3 each), the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) said.

Both Kerala and Arunachal Pradesh logged two cases of elephant killings while Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Meghalaya, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra had one case each, it added.

Noida-based social and animal rights activist Ranjan Tomar had sought the information from the WCCB, which functions under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFF) under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

In terms of arrests related to the killings of elephants, the maximum 17 people were held in Tamil Nadu followed by 15 in Assam, 13 in Odisha, 11 in West Bengal, according to the reply.

Five people were held in Kerala, four each in Uttarakhand and Bihar, three in Maharashtra, two each in Meghalaya and Rajasthan and one in Karnataka, it added.

Expressing concern over the poaching situation, Ranjan said there was a need to ensure protection of the elephants in their natural habitat and hoped to raise awareness about it.

Elephants play a significant role in expansion of forests and green cover. They walk for several kilometers a day on an average, feeding on leaves and fruits in the wild. During the walk, they leave behind their dung which contains seeds of plants and trees. It’s a distribution process of seeds which helps expand the green cover, he said.

According to a 2017 census by Project Elephant, India has the largest number of wild Asian elephants, estimated around 30,000 about 60 per cent of the species’ global population.

However, hundreds of elephants have also been killed over the years due to reasons like human-animal conflict, loss of natural habitat, and by hunters who kill the species for ivory or meat. (PTI)