Most of the deaths reported in Kodagu and Mysore districts
The news that 28 elephants have died in the State in the last two years due to electrocution comes as a shocker. Most of these incidents have been reported in Kodagu, Chamrajanagar and Mysore areas where the number of elephants is good and the animals are frequently on the move. The recent electrocution occurred at the BBTC plantations near Polibetta in Kodagu on April 12.
Sagging 11 kV power lines are the prime danger that unsuspecting elephants have had to face in the vulnerable areas, said Ajay Mishra, Field Director, Project Elephant, Mysore.
In some areas, farmers have drawn power from irrigation pumpsets for fencing which had resulted in the death of elephants.
However, specific statistics were not available on how many elephants have died under such circumstances.
In a place such as Kodagu, power lines pass through terrains that are uneven. Some areas are hilly and some sloping. On a hilly terrain the height of the power lines is no problem but when it sloped down, the power lines pose a danger to the wandering pachyderms. They face the possibility of imminent death when they come into contact with live power lines, Mr. Mishra told The Hindu.
He said that several letters have been written to Chamundeshwari Electricity Supply Corporation (CESC) officials in the last two years over the seriousness of the issue, but to no avail. As of now, the same risk and threat to the life of the animals exist. Why does the CESC not take it seriously no one knows, he added.
The electric wires were found as low as four ft at the BBTC plantations in Kodagu where the last electrocution case was reported.
Considering that an elephant is about 12 ft tall and its trunk measured another five or six ft, the minimum height of the electric wires should be 20 ft uniformly, Mr. Mishra said.
Well, electrocution is not the only reason for the death of elephants in the State. According to statistics, 236 elephants have died — 121 during 2010-11 and 115 during 2011-12 — due to various reasons.
During 2010-11, 97 elephants died in the State due to natural causes that included reasons such as old age and sickness.
As many as seven elephants died of gun shots. Road accidents claimed the lives of two elephants, one died in a fight among the herd and one fell to poaching, apart from 13 electrocution incidents.
During 2011-12, 84 animals died of natural causes, three from gun shots, five in fights, three in road accidents and 15 of electrocution.
Surprisingly, five calves were mauled and eaten by tigers, Mr. Mishra stated. No case of poaching was reported.
There were an estimated 6,000 elephants in Karnataka that move constantly from one area to another. About two or three per cent of the elephants could die due to various reasons annually, Mr. Mishra said.