#India; #Lightningstrike; #DeathOfWildElephants; #Asia; #ForensicTests
Guwahati, India/Canadian-Media: A massive lightning strike might have caused the death of a herd of eighteen wild Asiatic elephants in India's eastern state of Assam, local officials said on Friday.
Wild elephants. Image credit: Unsplash
On Thursday the villagers found dead bodies of fourteen adult elephants, and another four bodies were found scattered on the foothills of the Kundoli reserve forest area of Assam, about 100 miles from the state capital of Dispur, M.K Yadava, local wildlife official told Reuters, NBC News reports said.
A high-level inquiry into the incident was ordered by the state government ordered on Friday, Parimal Suklabaidya, Assam's forest and wildlife minister added.
A local forest ranger, not authorized to speak to the media found the dead bodies of elephants and said it was possible that the elephants were killed by a lightning strike late on Wednesday, adding he had seen burnt trees in the area.
But based on social media images, prominent conservationist Soumyadeep Datta, from environmental activist group Nature’s Beckon, said that was unlikely.
“Poisoning could be behind the death of the elephants,” Datta told AFP news agency. “We have to wait for the autopsy report, which the forest department will do soon,” Alja Zeera news reports said.
Home to nearly 30,000 elephants, about 60 percent of the wild Asiatic elephant population in India. Of them, Assam is home to an estimated 6,000, who constantly come out of the forests in search of food.
The government of Assam has been urged by the conservationists that encroachment of people should be prevented and to establish free corridors for the elephants to move between forests safely.
In recent years, villagers have been killed and crops had been destroyed by wild elephants.