Eighteen elephants suspected killed from lightning strike in India

Elephants found dead during rains in the protected Kondali forest reserve

Men stand near dead wild elephants, suspected to have been killed by lightning, on a hillside in the Nagaon district of Assam state in India. Photograph:  Biju Boro/AFP via Getty

Men stand near dead wild elephants, suspected to have been killed by lightning, on a hillside in the Nagaon district of Assam state in India. Photograph: Biju Boro/AFP via Getty

 

Lightning is believed to have killed a herd of 18 wild Asiatic elephants in remote north-eastern India, a forest official said.

The elephants, including five calves, were found dead during rains in the protected Kondali forest reserve, wildlife official Jayanta Goswami said.

The forest guard reached the remote area on Thursday and found 14 elephants dead on top of a hill and four at the bottom.

Preliminary reports by veterinarians said the elephants were struck by lightning, but tests are being carried out to ascertain the exact cause of death.

The reserve is in Assam state’s Nagaon district, 95 miles east of Gauhati, the state capital.

Assam is home to an estimated 6,000 or more wild Asiatic elephants who constantly come out of the forests in search of food.

Conservationists have urged the government to prevent encroachment of people and to establish free corridors for the elephants to move between forests safely.

In recent years, wild elephants have entered villages, destroyed crops and even killed people. –PA