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  • 01 December, 2023

  • 7 Min Read

Elephant Death Audit Framework

World Elephant Day, observed globally on August 12, is a dedicated observance aimed at raising awareness about the critical challenges confronting elephants and advocating for their protection and conservation.

This significant day provides a platform to emphasize the issues elephants face, encompassing habitat loss, ivory poaching, human-elephant conflicts, and the imperative for enhanced conservation endeavours.

Historical Perspective:

  1. The campaign World Elephant Day was initiated in 2012 to bring awareness to the disturbing situations of African and Asian elephants.The objective of this campaign is to create a sustainable environment where animals are not exploited and taken care of.
  2. It was first observed by Canadian filmmakers Michael Clark and Patricia Sims with the Thailand-based Elephant Reintroduction Foundation. In 2012, Patricia Sims founded an organization called the World Elephant Society.
  3. The organization has succeeded to create awareness about the dangers confronted by elephants and the inevitability to protect them globally.

Key Highlights of Elephants?

Elephant is the Natural HeritageAnimal of India.Elephants are considered a "Keystone Species" as they play a critical role in maintaining the balance and health of forest ecosystems.

They are known for their exceptional intelligence, boasting the largest brain size of any land animal.

Significance in Ecosystem:

Elephants are very important grazers and browsers, eating vast amounts of vegetation every day, spreading seeds around as they go.

They also help shape the often-thick vegetation of the Asian landscape.For example, in forests, elephants create clearings and gaps in the trees that let sunlight in to reach new seedlings, helping plants grow and the forest to regenerate naturally.

Elephants will also dig for water when there is not any surface water – opening water access for other creatures as well as themselves.

Elephants in India:

    • India has the largest number of wild Asian Elephants, estimated at 29,964 according to the 2017 census by Project Elephant.It is about 60% of the species’ global population.
    • Karnataka has the highest number of elephants, followed by Assam and Kerala.

Conservation Status:

    • International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species:
      • African Forest Elephant (Loxodonta Cyclotis)- Critically Endangered
      • African Savanna Elephant (Loxodonta Africana)- Endangered
      • Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus)- Endangered
    • Convention of the Migratory species (CMS):
      • African Forest Elephant: Appendix II
      • Asian Elephant: Appendix I
    • Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I
    • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES):
      • African Savanna Elephant: Appendix II
      • Asian Elephant: Appendix I

Initiatives and Accomplishments in India's Elephant Conservation Journey?

  • Addressing Elephant-Human Conflict:
    • Establishment of over 40 elephant corridors and 88 wildlife crossings to reduce conflicts.
    • Creation of buffer zones around protected areas covering more than 17,000 sq. km.
  • Project Elephant:
    • Launched in 1992, covering 23 states across India.
    • Improved the status of wild elephants, with a population increase from about 25,000 in 1992 to around 30,000 in 2021.
  • Elephant Reserves:
    • Establishment of 33 Elephant Reserves covering approximately 80,777 Sq.km.
    • These reserves play a crucial role in safeguarding wild elephant populations and their habitats.
  • Human-Elephant Conflict Management:
    • Rapid response teams deployed in various states to handle conflict situations.
    • Around 110 critical stretches across the railway network in the country that traverse through elephant habitats have been identified for the implementation of eco-friendly measures to mitigate human-elephant conflicts.In these locations measures such as building underpasses, clearing vegetation along the tracks to increase visibility for the loco pilots to avoid collisions, provisioning ramps, and others will also be taken up.
  • Community Participation and Empowerment:
    • Gaj Yatra program and Gaj Shilpi initiative involving people to raise awareness about elephant conservation.
  • Recognition of Exemplary Efforts:
    • Conferment of Gaj Gaurav awards individuals and organizations for their exemplary contributions in the field of elephant conservation and management.
  • International Agreements and Protocols:
    • Participation in international conferences like the Conference of Parties under CITES.
    • Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) Programme - The MIKE Programme was established by the CITES by Resolution 10.10 adopted at the tenth Conference of the Parties in 1997.
      • The MIKE program started in South Asia in the year 2003 with the following purpose:
        • To provide information needed for elephant range States to make appropriate management and enforcement decisions, and to build institutional capacity within the range States for the long-term management of their elephant populations.
      • Mike Sites in India:
        • Chirang-Ripu Elephant Reserve (Assam)
        • Deomali Elephant Reserve ( Arunachal Pradesh )
        • Dihing Patkai Elephant Reserve ( Assam )
        • Garo Hills Elephant Reserve ( Meghalaya )
        • Eastern Dooars Elephant Reserve ( West Bengal )
        • Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve ( Odisha )
        • Shivalik Elephant Reserve (Uttarakhand )
        • Mysore Elephant Reserve ( Karnataka )
        • Nilgiri Elephant Reserve ( Tamil Nadu)
        • Wayanad Elephant Reserve ( Kerala)

According to the recent Elephant Death Audit Framework, electrocution major cause of elephant deaths in Tamil Nadu.

Initiative by – State of Tamil Nadu. This is the 1st of its kind initiative in the country.

Objectives – Prescribe a Systematic Standard Protocol (SSP) for conducting post-mortem to determine cause of death and understand the cases of preventable and unnatural deaths.Formulate remedial measures for prevention of unnatural and preventive deaths by conducting periodical death audits and monitoring these over time.


  • Mortality – 1,505 elephant deaths have been recorded since 2010, and 159 of them, or 10.5% of all mortalities, were caused by humans or human-related activities
  • Primary threat - 802 deaths were due to diseases, followed by electrocution.

  • Electrocution – It is an unnatural causes that were behind more than one in every 10 elephant deaths.
  • Since 2010, 128 animals have died of electrocution with 76 cases of electrocution being “intentional” which occurred as the result of negative interactions with humans.
  • Other unnatural causesPoaching, poisoning, gunshots as well as train and road accidents.
  • 158 carcasses were deemed to be unfit for post-mortem which means the cause of death was unlikely to be ascertained.

India is home to over two-thirds of the World’s Asian elephant population with only about 20% of their range is inside protected areas.


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