Lightning, not anthrax killed 3 elephants: Probe (Deogarh, India)


The New Indian Express

Date Published

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DEOGARH: Scotching reports that three elephants in Deogarh’s Damdami Hill in Prabhasuni Reserve Forest died due to anthrax, investigation by a veterinary team has attributed the cause to lightning.

Prof Niranjan Sahu, who headed the team, said dehydration and putrefaction levels of the three elephants were the same. The level of dehydration five days after the death is a symptom of lightning, he said. Lightning as a cause is considered very unusual.

The investigation team found that the pachyderms – two female and a calf – were found dead in close proximity. In case of a disease, the level of dehydration and putrefaction will not be the same while the animals are not likely drop dead in the same place. Same theory applies to poisoning too.

Prof Sahu of Odisha University if Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) performed the autopsy on the three elephants at the spot on Monday in presence of RCCF, Rourkela, Lingraj Ota and Deogarh DFO, Binay Kumar Biswasi on Monday. The team also comprises Dr Sourabh Hota, Dr Haresh Kumar Dalai, both from OUAT, Sub-Divisional Veterinary Officer Dr Ranjit Samantray and Tileibani Veterinary surgeon Dr Satyabrata Mishra.

While no substantial burn marks were found on the bodies of the animals or trees in the forest, Sahu said, the three were apparently moving in one direction and the leader bore a char mark. “It appears the first one was hit by the lightning while the rest came in contact because of their close proximity,” he added.

The team spoke to locals who said, on June 8, the area had reported considerable lightning incident. There were two trees which bore char marks. During autopsy, the team found that the eyeballs of the elephants had protruded which is caused by neurological shock triggered by a lightning.

While wildlife experts raised questions over the delayed discovery of the carcasses, Chief Wildlife Warden Sidhanta Das said, the elephants had been tracked till June 2 after which the elephants went atop a hill.

While the carcasses were left behind after the postmortem as evening had set in, a decision on disposal either by burying or by setting those on fire would be taken on Tuesday.

The spot where the carcasses were found is barely five-km from Tileibani Beat which has a Forester and five forest guards.

According to available data, as many as 21 elephants deaths have been reported in Deogarh district since April 2010 of which six are cases of poaching. As per Elephant Census of 2015, there were 42 elephants in the district.