Elephants in India are facing a significant threat from electrocution. According to data provided by the Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, electrocution has been the leading cause of death for elephants in India in the past five years, with 348 deaths reported. The data also showed that 80 deaths were caused by train accidents and 41 deaths were caused by poaching. In addition, illegal electrified solar and electric perimeter fencing done by farmers to prevent elephants from entering their fields is a major contributor to these electrocution deaths.
The Union government has implemented multiple guidelines aimed at reducing the number of elephant deaths caused by electrocution, as well as minimizing the impact of power transmission lines and other power infrastructure on elephants and other wildlife. However, a significant portion of electrocution deaths among elephants is caused by illegal electrified solar and electric perimeter fencing erected by farmers to deter elephants from entering their fields. These farmers illicitly obtain power for the fencing from main transmission lines, resulting in immediate death for elephants that come into contact with it.
One solution proposed by conservationists is the creation of elephant corridors, designated areas that allow elephants to safely migrate between forests in search of food. India currently has 101 elephant corridors and 32 elephant reserves have been established in 14 major elephant states. The MoEFCC has also established critical elephant habitats as ‘Elephant Reserve’ for elephant conservation and to reduce conflict. These reserves are designed to protect the elephant population, and reduce human-elephant conflict by providing safe and secure corridors for the elephants to travel through.
It is important to note that India is home to the largest population of Asiatic elephants, accounting for nearly 60% of the world’s jumbo population. According to a 2017 estimate, India had a total of 29,964 wild elephants, with Karnataka having the highest number at 6,049, followed by Assam with 5,719, Kerala with 5,706, and Tamil Nadu with 2,761. The loss of even a single elephant is a significant blow to the ecosystem and the overall biodiversity of the country. It is therefore imperative for the government and local communities to take effective measures to protect these endangered species and prevent further deaths.
It is clear that electrocution is a significant problem for elephants in India. The government and local communities must take immediate action to address the issue, including the enforcement of laws to prevent illegal electrified solar and electric perimeter fencing, and the creation of elephant corridors and reserves to protect these animals. Only through a concerted effort can we ensure the survival and well-being of these magnificent creatures, which play an integral role in the ecological balance of the country.
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