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Electric snare claims another elephant in Odisha

The elephant that got electrocuted in Dhenkanal.  

Another elephant was killed on Friday in Odisha’s Dhenkanal district after coming in contact with live electric wire. Since April alone, five elephants have been killed by electrocution.

The incident was reported from Hindol Range of Dhenkanal Forest Division. “Some people had set up a trap with live electric wire fence for wild boar. The elephant from a seven-member herd accidentally came in contact, leading to the death,” said Dhenkanal Divisional Forest Officer Prakash Chand Gogineni.

Mr. Gogineni said, “From our initial investigation, we got to know about involvement of six persons. Four persons have been arrested. Two will soon be apprehended.”

This was second electrocution in the Dhenkanal division.

Preventable deaths

“Despite a large number of electrocution of elephants, which are completely avoidable, taking place in the State, no visible step is being taken to prevent deaths,” said Biswajit Mohanty, who heads of Wildlife Society of Orissa (WSO).

According to WSO, 389 elephants have died since in Odisha since 2016-17. Of the 389, as many as 60 elephants died accidentaly by contact with live wires. While earlier, sagging overhead transmission lines were responsible for electrocution deaths, more recently traps to kill wild animals have claimed elephants.

Tech. solutions

“Minimum measures could have saved precious elephants in the State. Regular patrolling by field level forest officials can keep miscreants at bay. At the same time, the power distribution companies should have installed earth-leakage circuit breakers (ELCB), which would have ensured power disconnection upon elephant coming in contact with live wire,” Mr. Mohanty pointed out.

Recently, Sangita Iyer, a founder of California-based Voice for Asian Elephants Society (VFAES), wrote a letter to Tata Power Limited, drawing attention of staggering elephant death rates in Odisha.

“According to media reports, around 120 elephants were electrocuted in Odisha between 2009 and 2019. Nearly 30 elephants were electrocuted between 2018 and 2020 alone, caused by live wire fences and wire traps laid for poaching. These deaths could have been avoided, had the electricity company taken precautionary measures to prevent poachers from exploiting structural vulnerabilities, such as the unprotected air break (AB) switches,” said Ms. Iyer.

“We humbly request that immediately all transformer units and AB switch poles located in known poaching hotspots in the forest areas be completely secured, making them inaccessible to poachers. These electrical structures should be barricaded with high fencing and a locked gate, accessible only to distribution company officials,” she urged.

Moreover, insulating the wires passing through the forest areas should be made mandatory and forest clearance for non-compliance should be rejected, said Ms. Iyer.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 6:04:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/electric-snare-claims-another-elephant-in-odisha/article35515755.ece

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