7 elephants, in search for food, electrocuted by power lines in Odisha village
Seven elephants died of electrocution after coming in contact with a sagging power line in Odisha’s Dhenkanal district Friday night.
Officials said a herd of 13 elephants entered Kamalanga village under Dhenkanal Sadar forest range last night in search of food when they came in contact with the 11KV laid by the railway department for track construction work.
The incident came to light after villagers spotted the carcasses near a village nullah this morning.
This is the highest casualty of elephants in a single incident in Odisha. Dhenkanal DFO Sudarshan Patra said he was rushing to the spot to take stock of the situation.
Power distribution company CESU suspended an SDO, a superintending engineer and terminated from service a junior engineer. A range officer, ranger and a forest guard of Dhenkanal forest division were also suspended by the forest department.
In December 2012, six elephants were knocked down by a speeding express train in Rambha area of Ganjam district while in April this year, four elephants including a tusker and a calf were killed in Jharsuguda district when they were hit by a speeding train.
Tension gripped the area as locals held railway and energy departments responsible for the incident.
Wildlife activists said it was apparent that despite Dhenkanal being known as an elephant corridor, the forest officials did nothing to prevent such deaths.
“We have repeatedly told the forest department about 200 spots in Dhenkanal where high voltage power lines are sagging and could endanger the lives of elephants, but no action has been taken. The deaths are unpardonable,” said Dr Biswajit Mohanty of Wildlife Society of Odisha, a reputed wildlife conservation organisation of the State.
Wildlife conservationists said from April this year, at least 54 elephants have died in the state either due to poaching, deliberate electrocution or by sagging lines or poisoning.
Elephant conservationist Ranjit Patnaik said since April 2010, 102 elephants have been killed in the state due to electrocution, one of the major reasons of elephant deaths.
The average annual elephant casualty, which was 33 in 1990, has now reached 73, one of the highest in the country.