A Right to Information (RTI) activist said that 186 wild elephants were killed after being hit by trains in the last 10 years with Assam accounting for the highest number of such deaths – 62 elephants.
RTI activist R Pandiraja from Tenkasi in Tamil Nadu said that till December 2020, as many as 62 elephants died in Assam because of collision with speeding trains.
On November 30 night, two wild elephants were run over by a Rajdhani Express train near Khetri in Assam. The incident took place at Durung Moinajan area under Khetri police station while the wild elephants had tried to cross the railway track.
The RTI activist informed that in the last 10 years, 32 elephants were poisoned to death in Assam. He also said that the Ministry of Environment and Forests had spent Rs 212.5 crore in the last 10 years for the conservation of elephants.
Pandiraja said that he received a reply to his RTI 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 10 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.
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.
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.
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.”