In a tragic incident, 18 elephants, including three calves, were killed in lightning on a remote hill in Nagaon district on Wednesday night. Moved at the tragic incident, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told Environment and Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya to rush to the spot and ensure an investigation into the incident.
The incident took place at Topajuri under the Kondoli beat office in the Kothiatoli range of Nagaon Forest Division. The site is 30 km from Nagaon district headquarters.
Nagaon Deputy Commissioner Kavitha Padmanabhan said that the preliminary investigation by the Forest Department brought to light that the tragedy was because of lightning that occurred at the site last night.
“Some villagers went to the Kondoli forest beat this morning and reported that they had seen four elephants lying dead on a road. Our team visited the site and came to know that the elephants fell from the hill. They climbed the hill and found the bodies of 12 other elephants lying,” said Forest Conservator Bankim Sarma.
“The tragic incident occurred because of the lightning. Our people saw that trees in the nearby areas were burnt,” he added. The dead elephants include 3 calves and over three cows. “We cannot tell the exact number of pregnant elephants. It will come to light only after the post-mortem of the carcasses,” Sarma said.
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Nagaon Divisional Forest Officer S Basantham led a high-level forest team to the site for a detailed investigation of the incident.
This is for the first time that such a large number of elephants killed in lightning in this region. In 2017, five elephants coming from Lumding reserved forests were killed by a high-speed Guwahati-bound train.
Nagaon Deputy Commissioner Padmanabhan said that the local administration would render all possible support to the Forest department for the post-mortem of the bodies of the pachyderms at the site.
“A Veterinary team each from the Kaziranga National Park and the Nagaon Veterinary department will do the post-mortem on Friday with support from the Forest department,” the DC said.
A herd of more than 200 elephants from the reserved forests of Karbi Anglong moves in the inter-district bordering area. A Forest department source said that that herd often enters the tea garden areas. The ill-fated 18 elephants might have been members of the herd, the source said.
Credit: The Sentinel