The sub-adult female elephant which died because of suspected electrocution at colony number seven near Gazoldoba in Jalpaiguri on Tuesday. Picture by Biplab Basak
March 12: An elephant was found dead on the fringes of Baikunthapur forest in Jalpaiguri district today near a crop field that had wires, raising the suspicion that the animal was electrocuted.
Foresters suspect the female jumbo had come in contact with a live wire, probably planted by the owner of the patch.
This morning, residents of Targhera Range village colony seven found the sub-adult elephant lying dead next to a field located close to the forest.
Located on the fringes of the Baikunthapur forest, the area is around 30km from Siliguri.
“Last night, we heard an elephant trumpeting but did not go out as there have been incidents of jumbos attacking us. We stayed inside and this morning, the animal’s body was found in a pit near a field,” said Manik Sarkar, a local resident.
The animal, foresters said, was found dead next to a plot owned by Sukumar Sarkar, a villager.
Foresters who went to the spot after being informed said they saw some wires had been laid at the periphery of the field.
“We noticed that some electric wires were laid at the periphery of the field. It seems the animal died after coming in contact with the wire, laid illegally to stop elephants from entering the field and thus, save the crop,”a forest source said.
Sukumar, the sources said, later removed the wire.
A few years ago, at least two elephants had been electrocuted on the fringes of Baikunthapur and Naxalbari forests.
“In both the cases, it was found that villagers had laid electric wires to prevent the entry of animals into their fields. It is completely illegal to put live wires in fields and in case it is proved that the animal died because of electrocution, the person or persons concerned are liable to be prosecuted under the wildlife act and other laws,” said Animesh Bose, a Siliguri-based environmentalist.
“The punishment meted for an offender is imprisonment for one to six years or a fine of Rs 1,000-5,000 or both,” said a forest source.
“Campaigns were launched to discourage such practices but it is unfortunate that the trend seems to continue and claim lives of wild elephants,” he said.
“A joint team comprising officials of different departments was formed to prevent such incidents as well as to impart awareness to villagers.
The committee needs to resume its functions to prevent elephant deaths in such a manner,” Bose added.
Dharamdeo Rai, the divisional forest officer of Baikunthapur, confirmed the elephant’s death. “We cannot, however, comment on anything regarding the cause of its death unless we get the post-mortem report. Vets are conducting the post-mortem, after which the carcass would be cremated,” said Rai.
“We have heard the allegation that a live wire was laid illegally at the spot where the elephant was found dead. We are investigating the matter,” added Rai.