Lightning kills 2 elephants, tusks stolen as staff clueless for 5 days (India)


Upadhye, Deccan Chronicle

Date Published

The Bannerghatta National Park is home to a large elephant population
Bengaluru: In a bizarre incident, two wild tuskers grazing on a hillock on the borders of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, fell off the cliff and died after lightning reportedly hit them. The foresters who discovered the carcass of the two tuskers a couple of days ago in the forests of Hosur in Tamil Nadu, soon found that tusks from one of the pachyderms had been removed and taken away. An inquiry was established by the heads of foresters in Chennai and help was sought from the Karnataka Forest Department.

The Bannerghatta National Park, which is home to a large elephant population, abuts Tamil Nadu forests at many points. Mr V K Melkani, Chief Wildlife Warden of Tamil Nadu, told Deccan Chronicle that the investigating team is closing in on the culprits. “Since it was raining, the foresters could not find the carcasses on the day of the incident. It was only after five days that a patrolling party discovered the carcasses and noticed that the tusks were missing. It’s possible that some of the local villagers may have taken out the tusks, if that is so they will be nabbed soon.

The officials in Hosur have also detained a few persons and the tusks will be recovered,” the officer said confidently.The foresters from BNP pointed out that a large number of elephants cross into Tamil Nadu from Bannerghatta in search of food and water. They also point out that though death of elephants by lightning is a rare phenomenon, it’s not impossible. “In fact around the area where elephants are said to be hit by lightning, there are burn marks on the nearby trees. Also, the forest on the borders of TN and Karnataka was the recipient of heavy rains during last week when the incident is said to have happened,” said a forest officer.

Meanwhile, conservationists are shocked that the death of two elephants did not come to light for more than four days after the tusks were taken out. “The TN government must improve patrolling in the forest areas even during monsoon season. The wildlife regions in Karnataka adjoining Tamil Nadu has much stricter monitoring over poaching and other non-forestry activities, but the same is not happening on the TN front,” they say.