Madurai bench of the Madras High Court has ordered that all elephant death cases in Tamil Nadu be probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), with the assistance of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB). Justices MM Sundaresh and Sathish Kumar passed the order in response to two Public Interest Litigations that sought action against perpetrators of wildlife crimes, poaching and suspicious deaths.
One of the PILs was filed by advocate Manoj Immanuel, and it was regarding the 7 suspicious elephant deaths in Meghamalai, Tamil Nadu in 2018. According to the petitioner’s counsel Alagumani and Lajapathi Roy, though the deaths were said to be caused by electrocution, they were suspected to be poaching cases and such deaths went on unabated.
Advocate Alagumani told Zee Media that they had also cited news reports on poachers (arrested in Kerala) having confessed about their elephant poaching activities in Tamil Nadu forests. In response to their 2018 case, the Court had earlier ordered the WCCB to provide a report. The WCCB filed in 2019 stated that there was a big gang involved in these elephant poaching cases and that there were powerful kingpins operating behind.
In the latest case, the Court observed that elephants were an important part of the wild ecosystem and that their deaths were not isolated incidents, but are of a trans-boundary nature. The judges mentioned the importance of preventing poaching and aiding conservation efforts. It was stated that elephant deaths were not just limited to few specific forest areas and that the perpetrators belonged to various states, hence necessitating a CBI probe to ensure that the kingpins are nabbed.