Pachyderms in peril

Published: Wednesday 30 April 1997

wildlife experts have pressed panic buttons, claiming that unless the government declare an all-out war against rampant poaching, the Indian elephant will be doomed to extinction. They point out that poaching, shrinking forests and violent encounters with humans have contributed to the declining number of elephants in the country from 1,00,000 to about 28,000.

Vinod Rishi, head of the government's Project Elephant established in 1992, claimed that at least 50 elephants were killed each year in India by poachers who kill for ivory, and about 50 were killed by people living on forest fringes. "In 20 years, it is going to be a disaster for the elephant," said Valmik Thapar, another expert. "They are going to be homeless and killed, as wolves are being killed in some areas," he added.Although the elephant has been a part of the Hindu mythology and folklore, Rishi said, "This is not helping mainly because it is not a high-profile animal like the tiger. Besides, there is also a lack of concern in the West." He pointed out that as killers mainly target male tuskers, a general imbalance is created which threatens species generation.

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