The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Electric pole snaps, kills jumbo

Siliguri, Oct. 30: A wild elephant was electrocuted in a paddy field in Malbazar last night when an already damaged electric pole snapped and fell on it after the animal rubbed its body against the upright.

The incident has prompted environmentalists to censure the forest department and the electricity distribution company for not replacing the damaged pole in time.

The paddy field where the adult, male elephant died is located close to Patharjhora Tea Estate, around 55km from here. The area is adjacent to an elephant corridor.

“We suspect that the elephant might have rubbed its body against the electric pole, which was already damaged, and it snapped and brought down the live wires on the animal,” said S.B. Patel, the chief conservator of forests (north Bengal). He added that a post-mortem would be conducted.

This is the second wild elephant to be electrocuted in north Bengal in the past one week. On October 23, an elephant died in the Kumani beat near Chapramari after touching a live wire with its trunk.

“The lackadaisical attitude of a section of forest officers and employees of the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (WBSEDCL) led to the death of the elephant,” said Animesh Bose of the Siliguri-based Himalayan Nature and Adventure Foundation. “The foresters from the nearby Noam range did not inform their superiors about the bent pole. WBSEDCL authorities, on the other hand, knew about the pole but did not replace it.”

Sujit Das, the secretary of the Oodlabari Nature and Adventure Society, rued the lack of awareness campaigns directed towards WBSEDCL employees. “They need to be made aware of the consequences of negligence in such cases.”

The chief conservator of forests (north Bengal) said local residents had informed the foresters about the bent pole over a month-and-a-half ago. “We had written to the principal chief conservator of forests, requesting him to take up the issue with the WBSEDCL authorities,” he said.

WBSEDCL officials defended their employees. “It is an unfortunate incident but we must realise that concrete poles cannot withstand pressure beyond a certain limit and certainly not an elephant’s weight,” said Abhijit Moitra, public relations officer, WBSEDCL, Siliguri Zone.

Rhino death

The male rhinoceros found dead in Jaldapara on Monday had been injured in a fight with another rhino, the post-mortem report has revealed, reports our Alipurduar correspondent.

“The animal’s larynx was completely damaged,” said Manindra Chandra Biswas, the divisional forest officer of the Cooch Behar forest division. “The horn was intact so we are ruling out poaching.”

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