Lightning kills 18 elephants in Assam’s Kondoli Proposed Reserve Forest

This is the first time that large-scale causality has been reported among elephants in Assam in nearly two decades. In 2001, at least 21 elephants were poisoned to death in the adjoining tiger reserves of Nameri and Pakke spread across Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

At least 18 elephants were found dead in a forest in Assam’s Nagaon district on Thursday morning, authorities said. “We suspect that it is a lighting strike that killed them as a result of the storm yesterday,” said M K Yadava, Chief Wildlife Warden, Assam, adding that a team of veterinary doctors as well as forest officials have been rushed to the spot for further investigation.

The carcasses were found by locals in the Kundoli Proposed Reserve Forest under the Kathiatoli range in Nagaon district.

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma took stock of the “mysterious deaths” and directed Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya to reach the site to assess the situation.

“The elephants were scattered into two groups of two and three. They were not huddled together,” said Yadava.

While the officials suspect it is a lighting strike, they are not ruling out other reasons yet. “A post mortem will be done tomorrow and only after that we can ascertain the exact cause of death,” said Vasanthan B, DFO, Nagaon.

Locals in the village reported the incident on Thursday morning and forest officials reached by the afternoon.

“We are looking at other surrounding areas also and may possibly carry out a drone search to see if there are more casualties,” he said.

Lightning-related deaths in elephants have earlier been reported in West Bengal. This is the first time that large-scale causality has been reported among elephants in Assam in nearly two decades. In 2001, at least 21 elephants were poisoned to death in the adjoining tiger reserves of Nameri and Pakke spread across Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

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