461 elephants died of electrocution between 2009 and Nov 2017

461 elephants died of electrocution between 2009 and Nov 2017

Courtesy : Nationalist Bureau05/11/2018 08:53

States in the eastern and northeastern region of the country have accounted for most of these deaths.

Human-elephant conflict is a major concern for policy-makers and conservationists, with the electrocution of elephants turning out to be a critical area in the management of India’s pachyderm population.

Between 2009 and November 2017, a total of 461 elephant deaths due to electrocution were reported.

An analysis of data pertaining to elephant deaths in India due to electrocution during the same period points out that on average, about 50 elephants die annually due to electrocution.

A closer look at the data, sourced from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC), reveals that states in the eastern and northeastern region of the country have accounted for most of these deaths, with Odisha recording 90 elephant deaths due to electrocution followed by 70 in Assam, 48 in West Bengal and 23 in Chhattisgarh.

Between August and October this, more than a dozen elephants died of electrocution in the eastern and northeastern part of India, including seven in Odisha’s Dhenkanal district.

Karnataka, which has the highest population of elephants, has recorded the highest 106 causalities of pachyderms by electrocution. While 17 elephants died in Kerala due to electrocution, in Tamil Nadu, the number of deaths between  2009 and November 2017 was 50.

Right of passage

Representatives of the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), who along with the MOEFCC’s Project Elephant had come out with a publication on the right of passage in 101 elephant corridors of the country last year, stressed on the need for greater surveillance and protection of elephant corridors.

“There is a need for greater coordination between the Forest Department and different agencies, including the Power Department, as well as continuous monitoring of electrical wires passing through areas of elephant movement,” Upasana Ganguly, Assistant Manager, Wild Lands Division, WTI, said.

She said that the publication had touched on the issue of how critical elephant corridors are for sustaining the jumbo population in the country.

Explaining why the east-central and northeastern parts of the country are witnessing a greater number of incidents of human-elephant conflict, well-known elephant expert and Professor, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, Raman Sukumar said pachyderms are expanding base across the country, moving out of forests towards agricultural areas.

 “In the east-central Indian landscape, elephants are emerging in the areas where they were never seen in decades or in centuries before. For instance, there were no elephants in Chhattisgarh for centuries, and now we are witnessing human-elephant conflict there,” Sukumar said.

Different landscapes

Along with taking measures to stop illegal electrical fencing and having proper guidelines for maintaining the height of high tension electrical wires, Sukumar said, “We need to come up with a proper zone-wise management plan for different elephant landscapes — where to allow elephants and where to restrict their movement.”

According to the all-India synchronised census of elephants carried out last year, pachyderm population was 27, 312, with Karnataka having the highest 6,049 elephants, followed by Assam 5,719 and Kerala 3,054.


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