Heat stroke kills elephant in Jharkhand’s Palamau reserve
A four-year-old male elephant died of heat stroke in Betla region of Palamau Tiger Reserve (PTR), forest officials said on Sunday.
“The elephant was found dead in Betla region on Saturday, and had probably died on Friday of heat stroke,” said PTR field director M P Singh, adding that the post-mortem report revealed that the animal was suffering from dehydration and was weak.
This was the second death of an animal due to heat stroke in a fortnight. An adult bison had died of heat stroke last month in PTR.
With maximum temperature hovering around 42 degree Celsius in Jharkhand’s northwest districts, wild animals are facing acute water shortage in the region as water-bodies are drying up fast in the region.
The state’s wildlife health expert Dr Ajay Kumar said, “When heat wave strikes, it dehydrates the body and disturbs the sodium and potassium level. It increases the risk of cardiac arrest.”
The temperature in Palamau, which is considered to be a water-starved district, is 3–4 degrees Celsius above the normal.
“The maximum temperature on Sunday was above 43 degrees Celsius and it may increase by one degree,” said forecasting officer of IMD centre, Ranchi, RS Sharma.
The Palamau reserve, spread over 1,129 square km, has 379 small and big water-bodies.
A source in PTR said water-bodies were drying up fast and merely 2–3 feet water was left in them. The surface water in such waterholes also becomes warm in the day time, making it difficult for animal consumption, he said.
With rising water crisis, animals are forced to go outside the forests in search of water. On Saturday, a deer entered the mission colony of Latehar town in search of water from Palamau tiger reserve.
The locals rescued the deer and handed it over to forest officials.
PTR director Singh said the region had received deficient rainfall in the last monsoon.
“Water is available in almost all water-bodies, but the water level is dipping fast due to extremely hot weather and the surface water is also getting warm in day time,” he said.
Singh further said that there are 100 artificial water turfs for wild animals in the reserve. The water in the turfs is changed every morning and evening so that animals do not suffer.
The population of jumbos is already on the decline in the reserve. PTR authorities had counted 186 jumbos in 2017 census, from 238 in the last census.
The reserve had witnessed deaths of nine elephants last year, which was the highest since formation of Jharkhand in November 2000.
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