High voltage cables to be insulated along elephant corridors in Bengal
With nearly four dozen elephants dying from electrocution in the past five years in West Bengal, the state government now plans to insulate the low-voltage cables that cross the elephant corridors.
The forest and energy departments also plan to install energized electric fences in some places along the elephant corridors. The fences will have a pulsating low voltage current that would ensure that animals do not cross them.
The initiative came after the Calcutta High Court in September learned suo moto of the reports of electrocution of elephants in the state. In October, the HC division bank approved orders to stop the death of elephants by electrocution.
According to data from the forest department, at least 47 elephants have been electrocuted in West Bengal to date since 2015. While 22 died in South Bengal, another 25 died in North Bengal.
“Villagers often install electric fences through the illegal use of electricity. When elephants touch the fences, they die. We are also creating anti-electrocution cells of various departments that would also include local authorities who would work on the ground to prevent such things, ”said a senior official from the state forest department.
Forest officials said that aside from illegal fences that kill animals, elephants have often been seen to tend to lean against power poles of high-tension cables. If the poles get loaded in any way due to a leak during the monsoon, the elephant dies.
“We will cover the posts with barbed wire to prevent the elephants from leaning against them. This will help save their lives, ”said an official.
The WBSEDCL will verify why the circuit breakers on the high voltage power lines did not trip after the elephants came into contact with them in the past, another official said.
Tea garden administrations may not be encouraging the installation of illegal electric fences, but there are several such fences near working colonies that lead to electrocution of elephants, he said.
The forest department will identify the tea gardens adjacent to the elephant corridors and the cells will ensure that the property management erects only low-voltage fences, the official said.
While North Bengal has around 550 elephants, there are around 200 elephants in South Bengal. Man-elephant conflict is common in West Bengal and villagers sometimes kill elephants to save their crops and property.