Reports submitted by forest department indicate that in the last six months, around 41 wild elephants have died in Kerala’s forest ranges. One may suspect that the deaths may be due to the drought, which has resulted in the scarcity of food and water for the elephants in the forest. But this is not the case, as claimed by government officials. Kerala’s forest minister K Raju has told the Kerala Assembly in a written reply that the deaths of the wild elephants have been due to other reasons such as attacks by tigers, electrocution, fights among elephants, and other natural causes. This comes as a surprise since the most likely reason appears to be drought, as Kerala is experiencing one of its worst droughts in a century.
The minister also informed that 14 deaths were reported in the Wayanad wildlife sanctuary, which is located in the northern part of Kerala. This sanctuary is spread across 344.44 sq. km, and it has four ranges namely Sulthan Bathery, Muthanga, Kurichiat and Tholpetty. The minister explained that food and water cannot be the reason for the deaths of the elephants since the government has renovated more than 1,500 water sources and planted various plants such as bamboo and fruit-bearing trees for the elephants.