Between 2018-19 and 2020-21, 222 elephants were killed by electrocution across the country, 45 by trains, 29 by poachers and 11 by poisoning. Among tigers, too, 29 were killed by poaching between 2019 and 2021, while 197 tiger deaths are under scrutiny. These figures emerge after adding up data tabled in Lok Sabha on Monday by Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Forest, Environment and Climate Change, in a written response to a question on human-animal conflict raised by S Senthilkumar (DMK).
Among human casualties of conflict with animals, elephants killed 1,579 humans in three years — 585 in 2019-20, 461 in 2020-21, and 533 in 2021-22. Odisha accounted for the highest number of these deaths at 322, followed by Jharkhand at 291 (including 133 in 2021-22 alone), West Bengal at 240, Assam at 229, Chhattisgarh at 183, and Tamil Nadu at 152.
Tigers killed 125 humans in reserves between 2019 and 2021. Maharashtra accounted for nearly half these deaths, at 61. For tiger deaths caused by human activity, the Lok Sabha reply did not provide a state-wise break-up.
Among the 222 elephant deaths caused by electrocution, Odisha accounted for 41, Tamil Nadu for 34 and Assam for 33. Odisha (12 out of 45) also had the highest number of elephant deaths caused by trains, followed by West Bengal (11) and Assam (9). Poaching deaths were highest in Meghalaya (12 out of 29) while poisoning deaths were highest in Assam (9 out of 11, including 8 in 2018-19 alone).
“As a result of concerted efforts made for protection and conservation of wildlife, the population of several wildlife species like Tigers, Elephants, Asiatic Lion, Rhino etc. in the country has increased,” the Minister said in his reply.
“Assessments of human-wildlife conflicts indicate that the main causes of human wildlife conflict include habitat loss, growth of population of wild animals, changing cropping patterns that attract wild animals to farmlands, movement of wild animals from forests area to human dominated landscapes for food and fodder, movement of human beings to forests for illegal collection of forest produce, habitat degradation due to growth of invasive alien species, etc,” he said.