Bhubaneswar, 28 Oct (LocalWire): A female elephant was electrocuted after it allegedly came in contact with a live wire trap laid by suspected poachers in Bagharatola forest under Rourkela forest division in Sundargarh district.
Conservationists expressed concern over the rise in elephant deaths due to electrocution.
The carcass of the animal was spotted early morning today by locals who entered into the forest to collect fuel wood and minor forest produce. Later they informed the forest personnel who rushed to the spot. Sagging electric wire was found passing through the site.
The tragic death of seven elephants by electrocution in October last year due to low-hanging 11 KV electric wires at Dhenkanal was the largest-such incident to have shaken the country.
Every year many wild animals are being killed by live wire traps laid by the poachers across the state. It has become more pronounced in Dhenkanal and Angul districts, said conservationist Biswajit Mohanty.
Elephants perish mostly due to poaching, electrocution, train collision and road mishaps besides due to falling into open wells. Poaching and electrocution are attributed as the two major causes of elephants’ mortality in the state.
Odisha has lost 167 elephants due to electrocution since 2000. The decade following 2000 witnessed 77 electrocution deaths, mostly due to sagging power lines.
The state lost 90 elephants to electrocution from 1 April 2010 till 21 August 2018, averaging nearly 11 elephants annually.
Live wire poaching traps, sagging overhead lines and electrified fences result in 63% electrocution deaths attributed to live wire poaching. Before 2010, majority of unnatural elephant deaths, approximately 80%, were due to sagging power lines. Since 2010, of the 90 electrocution deaths, 33 were due to sagging lines, 57 were due to live-wire poaching which reveals absence of patrolling, the conservationist claimed.
The forest department is found wanting in gathering ground-level feedback to prevent elephant electrocution.
Elephant squads deployed to keep tab on animals’ act of trespass into human habitations ought to be directed to detect sagging lines and report it to distcoms (power distribution companies) so that it could be elevated to safe heights.
There is no local reward system to prevent any hooking for live wire poaching. Not a single Distcom official has been convicted and jailed under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 despite death of more than 100 elephants caused by sagging overhead lines.
There is need to set up reinforced electric poles fitted with spikes to prevent elephants rubbing against them and lifting of sagging overhead power lines.The overhead wires across all elephant habitats and movement zones should be insulated.