Wild elephants will not be burnt or buried anymore, carcass to be left for
Archana Jyoti, Daily Pioneer
September 26, 2022
Wild elephants dying of natural death or in man-animal conflict such as
electrocution might not be incinerated or buried as has been the present
norm. Instead, their carcass will be left in the open for natural
decomposition and scavengers to feed on since they are an important source
of energy and nutrients for predators.
However, those who are found poisoned, as confirmed by their post-mortem
report, will continue to be buried, a senior official from the Union
Environment Ministry said about the Government’s plan to tweak the current
rules. “Once it is done, a notification will be issued in this regard soon
for the States to follow the new norms,” he added.
In fact, Kerala has already taken a lead in this direction and way back in
April had issued instructions to its forest officials to leave open the
body of the wild elephants in the natural ambiance of the green habitat so
that it can be decomposed on its own. Usually, huge earth has to be dug to
bury the elephants which are mostly around 3000 kg in weight.
“Earlier a wild elephant after its death due to any reason used to be
buried or burnt along with its tusks after its post-mortem. But now, if it
is found to be succumbed due to natural causes or in conflicts like a rail
hit or electrocution, the body will be left in the jungles so that other
animals can feed on it. However, if found poisoned, then it will be buried
so that other animals do not eat the poison-laced body,” the official added.
He said that there have been incidents as captured by cameras, even tigers
have been found to scavenge on megaherbivores like jumbos. Experts say that
elephant carcasses provide various animals including tigers with easy
availability of large quantum of biomass and also help them save the energy
needed for hunting species like Sambar deer and spotted deer.
Elephants are increasingly becoming vulnerable because of the loss and
degradation of their natural habitat. Many ventures closer to human
settlements in search of food, and some are killed by poachers or farmers
angry over damage to their crops.
At least 45 elephants were killed on railway tracks between 2019 and 2021,
as per government data.
As per the last count in 2017, India has 29,964 elephants. According to
Government data, on average, 500 people are killed annually by elephants,
and about 100 elephants are killed in retaliation.