Elephant Poaching & Ivory Trade Investigation

Elephant Poaching & Ivory Trade Investigation

Project Animal(s) : Elephant
Project Category : Mammals
Project Region : Asia
Project Type : Conservation
Project URL : http://www.wpsi-india.org/projects/elephant_poaching.php
Project is timebound? : Yes

Project Start Date : June 1, 1999

The elephant evokes a strong emotional reaction in India. Sadly, despite being venerated as a god and idolised on the big screen as man’s best friend, the elephant is now in desperate straits in the wild due to poaching and loss of habitat. Only male Asian Elephants bear tusks. The insatiable demand for ivory has led to the selective slaughter of tuskers in their prime and as a result the ratio of tuskers and females has fallen to an alarming low.

WPSI has recorded the loss of over 121 elephants due to poaching in a period of four years from 2008 to 2011. During this same period, WPSI has records of 781 kg of ivory, 69 tusks, 31 cut pieces of ivory, 99 pieces of ivory carvings and 75 ivory bangles that have been seized from across the country. From 2008 to 2011, a further 50 wild elephants died in road and train accidents and a shocking 111 elephants died from electrocution. But poaching remains the major cause of death for wild elephants.

Concerned by an unusual rise in poaching of tuskers in India, and the probable impact of the down-listing of the African elephant, WPSI began working on this issue in the 1990’s. We produced two major publications in collaboration with the Asian Elephant Conservation Centre (AECC), “A God in Distress” in 1997, and “Signed and Sealed” in 1998.

WPSI launched its Elephant Conservation Project in June 1999. We established an informer network in the Corbett-Rajaji region of Uttarakhand to track down elephant poachers and ivory traders. The network has now expanded to cover parts of South India, West Bengal, Orissa and Assam. Information and assistance provided by WPSI’s informers has led to some significant seizures of ivory.

Our Wildlife Crime Database now has up-to-date information on elephant poaching and the ivory trade from the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Assam, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Bihar. Data analysis has revealed where elephant poaching is rampant, which towns and cities the illegal ivory trade is prevalent, and the trade routes that are used to smuggle ivory out of the country.

We regularly hold enforcement and awareness workshops in villages around protected areas for villagers, forest officials and NGOs. We have also provided patrolling equipment, wireless sets, etc., to field staff of some protected areas and territorial divisions, to help them monitor the forests better and to reduce elephant poaching.

Project Agency : Wildlife Protection Society of India

Project Agency Contact : http://www.wpsi-india.org/wpsi/index.php