Local residents found the carcasses of 18 killed wild Asiatic elephants which included five calves in a forest in the state’s Nagaon district. They were killed by lightning. “This is a very sad incident, such incident has never occurred in the forests of Assam. Today in the afternoon during rainfall, a thunderstorm occurred and it was so intense that 18 elephants died in the forest,” Assam Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya said. Burnt trees were seen in the area. The forest guard reached the area on Thursday. Indian authorities are investigating the incident. Another opinion was declared by Soumyadeep Datta, a prominent conservationist with the environmental activist group Nature’s Beckon. Based on images shared on social media. “Poisoning could be behind the death of the elephants,” Datta said.
An estimated 6,000 or more wild Asiatic elephants live in Assam. India is home to about 27,000 elephants, making up 60 percent of the wild Asian elephant population. Conservationists have urged the government to prevent people’s encroachment into elephant territory and to establish free corridors for the elephants to move between forests safely. The Asiatic elephant is the only living species of the genus Elephas and is distributed throughout the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, from India in the west, Nepal in the north, Sumatra in the south, and to Borneo in the east. Since 1986, the Asian elephant has been listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.