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Odisha lost 179 elephants to electrocution since 2000

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Bhubaneswar, Oct 31: Wild elephants are electrocuted with startling regularity in India. Recently, seven jumbos, including a tusker and five females, were electrocuted as they came in contact with an 11-KV power line near Kamalanga under Sadar forest range in Odisha.

A report by Wildlife Society of Odisha reveals that since 2000, Odisha has lost a total of 179 elephants to electrocution. Between 2000 and 2010, there were 77 electrocution deaths, mostly due to sagging power lines averaging less than 8 elephants in a year.

Odisha lost 179 elephants to electrocution since 2000

The environment ministry data shows that 655 elephant deaths took place in India from 2009 to 2017. This translates into an average of about 80 elephant deaths per year, seven every month and one every four days.

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Elephants in Odisha have been electrocuted either unwittingly due to sagging overhead lines and electrified fences or by poachers who have set up live wire poaching traps.

Sixty per cent of the electrocution deaths currently are due to live wire poaching. Before 2010, the majority of the unnatural elephant deaths, approximately 80 per cent, were due to sagging power lines. Since 2010, out of 102 electrocution deaths, 42 have been due to sagging lines and 60 due to live wire poaching which reveals the absence of patrolling.

The main reasons for elephant deaths are electrocution, train accidents, poaching and poisoning.

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Rail tracks have also become "death traps" for elephants. In April this year, four elephants including a tusker and a calf were killed in Jharsuguda district when they were hit by a speeding train. Data shows that between 1987 and 2010, 150 elephants have died while just crossing railway tracks.

To reduce the deaths of elephants on the train tracks, Railways has come up with 'Plan Bee'. This innovative method prevents elephants from approaching the railway lines by setting up of devices near tracks. These devices emit the buzzing sound of bees and prevent elephants from approaching the tracks.

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