Female elephant found dead in the Nilgiris

The female elephant was found dead in a tea estate at Gudalur.

The female elephant was found dead in a tea estate at Gudalur. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A young female elephant was found dead in a tea estate at Gudalur on May 20.

Gudalur forest range officials said the elephant, around 30-35 years old, was found dead in the Woodbriar Estate at Padanthorai. It is believed to have entered the area, contiguous with the forests, late Thursday evening and pulled on the line that supplied electricity to an abandoned settlement.

On information, District Forest Officer (Gudalur division) Kommu Omkaram visited the spot and asked that officials of Tamil Nadu Electricity Board visit the area. Speaking to The Hindu, he said a case was registered under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, and the Forest Department had been requesting the TNEB to keep the cables out of the reach of elephants.

In 2019 and 2020, four elephants died after they came in contact with power lines. This is comparable with the number of deaths caused by illegal fences in the same period. The problem has been the most acute in the Gudalur division, with three elephant deaths recorded in the Cherambadi and Bitherkad forest ranges. One incident was recorded in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. In 2017, a leopard was killed by a power line in Doddabetta in the Nilgiris forest division.

Nilgiris-based conservationist N. Mohanraj said it was the duty of the TNEB to keep the power lines at 14 feet in key wildlife habitats. “The power lines should be taut during winter as they sag when the temperature increases in the summer. The distance between poles is also stretched in many areas, leading to the cables hanging close to the ground and becoming accessible for elephants,” he said.

He said that in other wildlife habitats, the use of ‘braid cables’ was being encouraged, but they are expensive. “At the very least, the height of the cables should be maintained and a pre-monsoon check should be made, especially in wildlife habitats and corridors.”

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Printable version | Jun 25, 2022 11:48:18 pm |