Wildlife electrocution deaths drop to 2 from last year’s 11
In the first five months of 2019, Maharashtra has recorded a significant drop in the number of wild animal deaths due to electrocution. While there were 16 and 11 deaths due to electrocution between January and May of 2017 and 2018 respectively, this year has seen only two deaths, as per data compiled by the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI).
“Following the spike in cases in 2017-18, state agencies got their act together and implemented ideas on the ground in a much more coordinated manner. There were joint patrolling drives conducted in sensitive seasons when crop sowing takes place, keeping in mind animal movements,” said Nitin Desai, director (central India), WPSI. “There is currently a 90% drop in electrocution related deaths,” he said.
The Maharashtra forest department confirmed the data and said it had tied up with the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) to reduce cases of electrocution. Solar fences were installed across 556 villages in Vidarbha and 150 villages across central Maharashtra and Konkan, replacing high intensity electric fences.
“Apart from being cost effective, there is minor impact on animals when they come close to such fences with relatively lesser power,” said an MSEDCL official.
Awareness sessions were also conducted to deter people from setting up illegal fences along with routine patrolling and bunching of overhead wires (covering live wires with insulating material) to avoid shocks, said Nitin Kakodkar, principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife), Maharashtra.
“These measures acted as deterrence for setting up illegal power fences, and locals got the message through awareness sessions that they should not indulge in such activities,” said Kakodkar.
Kakodkar said strict monitoring was essential to ensure the downward trend would continue in the number of wildlife deaths due to electrocution.