The carcass of an adult tusker was found in an agricultural field in West Midnapore’s Salboni forest region on Monday morning, marking the second such incident in the district in three days.
Villagers and forest officers on Monday morning spotted the carcass on a vegetable field adjacent to Pirakata village under Jhargram forest area’s Lalgarh range.
Forest officers said on Monday that they were so far uncertain of the tusker’s cause of death and origins, but speculated the male elephant might have been a part of a larger herd reported to be roaming the area recently.
Local sources on Monday suspected, however, that the elephant could have fallen prey to hidden live wires laid by villagers to protect their crops from marauding jumbo herds.
“It is a heinous measure and illegal as well, but villagers often take this step to prevent the loss of their livelihood (crops). They set the live wires down (on fields) at night and remove them by morning,” said a villager on condition of anonymity.
Residents of adjoining Bnadi village reportedly told police and forest officials early on Monday about the elephant death.
Sources said that the forest officials would bury the elephant after post-mortem.
Additional district forest officer (Midnapore) Bijoy Chakraborty said: “Prima facie it looks like an electrocution but we will await the post-mortem results.”
Police sources said they were awaiting a formal complaint in order to begin a probe into the tusker death.
Reports of elephants being electrocuted have come in quick succession from many parts of Bengal in recent months.
In July, an adult male elephant was electrocuted at Birpara in Alipurduar district. In June, two incidents were reported in quick succession at Buxa Tiger Reserve forest and Madarihat near Jaldapara National Park.
Early on Saturday, an elephant calf had drowned while its herd was crossing the Tamal river near West Midnapore's Goaltore town. Its body later washed up entangled in a fishing net, causing a stir among villagers.