An elephant calf died of electrocution in Bero block’s Khuratoli village, about 35 Kilometers West of Ranchi district headquarters on Wednesday — the second such incident reported from the block in less than a fortnight, forest officials said. The frequency of elephant deaths by electrocution in the area has prompted forest officials to probe into the trend and see if the deaths were accidents or planned killings, they added.
On Wednesday, villagers found the carcass of a two-year-old female elephant from a farm field in the village. The elephant, forest officials said, was moving along with her herd when she possibly came in contact with a naked wire and died of electrocution. “Prima facie, it is confirmed that the calf died of electrocution. We have initiated a thorough investigation in the matter,” said Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Saba Alam.
Another elephant calf died of electrocution in Bero on September 3. The Department of Forest, Environment and Climate Change has charged two residents of the block of forest offense under the Wildlife Protection Act in connection with the death. The final prosecution report, officials said, will be sent to the court soon. “Many times villagers use electrical wirings to fetch water from wells and ponds. There is a possibility that the elephant was electrocuted by one such naked wire,” Alam said.
It is, however, unclear why the voltage in the wire was so high that it killed an animal as big as an elephant. Usually, the voltage in wired fencing is only enough to scare away elephants. “Only further investigation will reveal if the wires were deliberately placed at a strategic location,” said the DFO.
The man-animal conflict in Jharkhand has taken ugly turns on several occasions in the past. At least 50 deaths were caused in man-elephant conflict in Jharkhand every year in the past one decade. In 2018, a total of 53 such deaths were reported, while 78 people were killed in 2017. Almost all of them were trampled to death by tuskers in rural areas of the State.
Incidents of irate mobs pelting stones at elephants and elephants rampaging settlements are common in several districts here. The State also has the oldest elephant sanctuary in India in form of Dalma Elephant Reserve in East Singbhum. The fact that the Government here has decided to provide free education to all the children whose parents are killed in elephant attacks proves the extent to which the conflict affects rural Jharkhand.