Two adult elephants were found dead in different reserve forests of the Hogenakkal range over two consecutive days.
Forest Department officials said a female elephant, aged around 16, was found dead in the Guthirayan reserve forest. It was sighted by a forest team on Sunday. Likewise, a tusker was found dead in the Pennagaram reserve forest by a Forest Department field team on Monday. The age of the elephant, whose tusks were intact, is yet to be ascertained.
An autopsy was carried out on the female elephant.
The latest deaths have taken the State-level toll to six in less than a month. Last month, two female elephants and a makhna were electrocuted by a farm fence in Morappur in Palacode. A barely four-month-old calf, which was rescued from a well and relocated to Theppakadu camp, also did not survive.
District Forest Officer K.V.A. Naidu told The Hindu that natural and unnatural (except poaching) deaths inside the forests were common. “Unnatural deaths inside the forests may include injuries due to infighting or falls from a cliff, or drowning in rivers, starvation, disease, attacks etc.,” the officer said.
The spread of diseases from cattle is another unnatural cause of early death of elephants inside the forest, according to Mr. Naidu. “Both wildlife and cattle compete for limited fodder and water. Water gets contaminated by straying cattle during the dry season. Excessive feeding on prosopis pods causes toxicity in elephants, which is very common in the Hogenakkal range,” he said.
Excessive feeding on prosopis pods causes toxicity in elephantsK.V.A. NaiduDistrict Forest Officer