Assam Elephants Death-Report indicates Lighting

Around eighteen Asian elephants died in Nagaon district of Assam recently. It is a proposed reserve forest. Prior to this, such mass death of elephants occurred in 2001. Around 21 elephants were poisoned to death in 2001 in the adjoining tiger reserves of Pakke and Nameri across Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.

What happened?

  • On the night of May 12, 2021, eighteen elephants died in the Kundoli proposed Reserve Forest located in Bamuni hillock.
  • The elephants were buried in the same spot after post mortem.
  • The samples of the elephants were sent for microbiological and toxicological examination. This was because there were claims that the elephants may have died due to poisoning of pesticides and insecticides used in Tea gardens.

Conclusion

It has now been concluded that the elephants died of lightning. A burnt tree was found split down in the middle indicating that the region was stuck by lightning. The elephants had charred bellies, burnt ears and burn marks on the scapular region.

How many elephants died?

Around ten females and eight females died in the incident. They were all found on the hilltop within a radius of hundred to 150 metres.

Why did this happen?

The Barmuni hill, where the lightning stuck and killed the elephants do not have thick vegetation. It is barren. There is no single tall tree to take the lightning.

How did the lightning kill the elephants?

The lightning strikes in different ways. Apart from direct strike, there are other ways by which the lightning strikes the ground. It can be through a side flash, ground current. In this case, the lightning current passed through the ground surface and killed even those who were outside the area.

In a side flash, the current bounces off bigger object.

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