Orchard owner arrested after two elephants looking for food electrocuted in India within two days

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File photo: An elephant found dead in a field in West Bengal, India, on 19 October, 2019, with electrocution suspected as cause of death (AFP via Getty Images)
File photo: An elephant found dead in a field in West Bengal, India, on 19 October, 2019, with electrocution suspected as cause of death (AFP via Getty Images)

Two elephants died of electrocution in separate districts of the Indian state of Odisha within days of each other, as authorities arrested an orchard owner for overcharging his electric fencing.

An elephant, likely around 20-25 years in age, was found in the Ganjam district of Odisha by local residents. District forest officials said that the animal may have touched an 11 kilovolt electric wire in a cashew orchard while looking for food, according to Hindustan Times.

The incident comes a day after an elephant was found electrocuted in a mango orchard at Dhenkanal district of the state. The owner of the orchard was arrested on Monday and later granted bail by a court.

District forest official Prakash Chand Gogineni said it was a deliberate attempt to kill the animal and they have submitted all evidence before the court.

He said that the solar fencing in the orchard was overcharged to 20 kilovolt, violating guidelines which mandate 9 kilovolt in the area, according to The New Indian Express.

At least 13 elephants have died in Odisha since April due to electrocution or poaching.

Wildlife conservationist Biswajit Mohanty told Hindustan Times that elephants in Odisha are getting killed because they move towards human habitations to find food as forests get depleted.

Last month, 18 elephants were found dead in the northeast Indian state of Assam, and authorities confirmed last week that they died due to “accidental electrocution by lightning.”

Assam forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya had ruled out any foul play.

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