Six drunk wild elephants electrocuted in Meghalaya
Shillong | October 23, 2007 12:05:07 PM IST
Six Asiatic wild elephants, including three calves, have died of electrocution after the herd, drunk on country liquor, dashed against a high-tension electric pole and came in contact with a live wire in a Meghalaya village.
A wildlife official said Tuesday that a herd of about 40 elephants drank rice beer brewed by local tribal people Sunday night and rampaged among paddy fields at village Chandan Nukat in the West Garo Hills district, about 250 km from the state capital Shillong.
"One of the elephants tried rubbing his back against an electric pole passing through the paddy field. The pole was unable to withstand the animal's weight and it caved in, bringing the elephant in direct contact with the live wire," Dipu Marak, a local wildlife activist, told IANS.
Witnesses and wildlife officials said seeing the adult male writhing in pain and trumpeting loudly, a few elephants came to his rescue.
"It was a pathetic sight to see one elephant after another getting electrocuted in front of our eyes. In all six elephants, including three calves were killed," said T. Sangma, a village elder. Villagers later informed wildlife and electricity board officials.
"There would have been more casualties, but some among the crowd witnessing the incident chased the other elephants away from the electric wire," Sangma added.
"Some of the elephants were charred partly, while others bled through their trunk after the electric shock. During the past few months, herds of wild elephants have been wreaking havoc in several parts of Meghalaya and adjoining state of Assam, especially in villages where tribal people brew rice beer in large quantities," noted elephant expert Kushal Konwar Sharma said.
"There have been several incidents of elephants drinking country liquor and then going berserk, at times plundering granaries and tearing apart huts, besides inflicting fatal attacks on human beings," he added.
Experts say wild elephants have been moving out of the jungles as people encroach upon animal corridors and this has led to an increasing number of elephant attacks on villages.
Elephants have killed 239 people in Assam in the past five years while 265 elephants have died during the same period, many of them victims of retaliation by angry humans.
Villagers often poison the marauding elephants while in the past they drove them away by beating drums or bursting firecrackers.
According to a 2002 wildlife census, Assam and Meghalaya have one of India's largest population of Asiatic elephants, estimated to be around 6,000.
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