Lightning strike suspected of killing 18 elephants in India

World

At least 18 elephants are believed to have been killed by lightning in India.

Locals in northeastern Assam state found the dead animals, including five calves, on Thursday in the foothills of the Kundoli forest reserve in Nagaon district.

The carcasses have been sent for post-mortem examinations, said forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya, but preliminary investigations suggest lightning was the cause.

“This is a very sad incident, such incident has never occurred in the forests of Assam,” he added.

“Today in the afternoon during rainfall, a thunderstorm occurred and it was so intense that 18 elephants died in the forest.”

A forest ranger said he had seen burnt trees in the area.

India is home to more than 50% of Asiatic elephants.

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However, their population has declined due to factors such as poaching and habitat loss.

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

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