How Tamil Nadu is covering up elephant poaching

A 25% decline in its elephant population and a report clearly identifying a network of poachers, middlemen and buyers dealing in illegal ivory have so far failed to get the state to set up a special investigation team.

On 3 February, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court ordered the formation of a special investigation team to probe cases of elephant poaching in the forests of Tamil Nadu. The team, it said, would comprise officers drawn from the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Tamil Nadu Police, the Tamil Nadu forest department and the Kerala forest department. 

The court’s action was in response to a report prepared by the Wildlife Crime Control Board. Filed before the court in 2019, the report’s contents got leaked to the public earlier this month.

Its findings are startling.

Prominent industrialists and businessmen …


Sandhya Ravishankar

Sandhya Ravishankar is an investigative journalist based in Chennai. She won a Ramnath Goenka award in 2018 for her sustained expose of corruption, illegality and the state-police-miner nexus in the beach mineral mining industry in Tamil Nadu, and has partnered with France-based Forbidden Stories in global investigations such as The Pegasus Project, The Cartel Project and The Green Blood Project. Sandhya has multiple exposes to her credit including the arithmetic error in Jayalalithaa's acquittal and the delay in opening the Chembarambakkam reservoir which led to the 2015 Chennai floods. She has authored an unofficial biography of a former chief minister M. Karunanidhi, titled "Karunanidhi: A Life In Politics". When she is not investigating corruption and threats to the environment, she enjoys the company of her dogs and travels extensively.