Tusker electrocuted in private farm near Coimbatore
This is the 21st elephant to have died in the Coimbatore Forest Division this year
A male elephant aged around 30 was found electrocuted at a private farm in Sirumugai in Coimbatore district on Wednesday.
The tusker was found dead on a banana plantation belonging to a farmer, Murugesan (40) in Puthukkadu village near Pethikuttai reserve forest of the Sirumugai forest range.
Sirumugai forest range officer D. Senthil Kumar and his team found that the fencing around the banana plantation was powered illegally, using electricity from a pump house set up for irrigation purposes. Murugesan told the forest range officer that he erected the fencing to protect the crop from wild boars.
As the Forest Department was escorting Murugesan to the forest range office for further questioning, village residents blocked the vehicle and forcefully released Murugesan. Tension prevailed, as the village residents refused to let the Forest Department staff take Murugesan to the forest range office.
Officials from the Sirumugai police station came to the place and held talks with the village residents. The situation de-escalated, after the village headman assured officials that Murugesan would be produced at the forest range office.
District Forest Officer D. Venkatesh said that arrangements were made for the post-mortem of the elephant and further investigations were under way.
Increasing elephant deaths
This tusker is the 21st elephant to have died in the Coimbatore Forest Division this year. A similar electrocution was reported in the Sirumugai forest range in April 2019, when a tusker aged around 10 was killed after it came into contact with an illegal electric fence around a banana plantation in the water-spread area of the Bhavani Sagar reservoir.
K. Kalidasan, of Coimbatore-based environmental organisation, Osai, said that the Forest Department and Tangedco should conduct periodical inspections at farms adjoining forests to curb illegal electric fencing.
“Tangdeco has a greater role to intervene as illegal electric fencing is also a misuse of free electricity given by the government to farmers. It is to be noted that illegal fencing (operated using AC power) can also kill humans who touch it. The government should take steps to provide good quality energizers (DC powered) to farmers for fencing which is safe for animals and humans,” he said.
In 2018, the Forest Department and the Water Resources Organisation PWD (Bhavani Sagar Dam) had removed encroachments and illegal electric fences on both sides of the water-spread area of the reservoir based on an order from the Madras High Court.