'Severely endangered' elephant suffocates to death on farmer's fence after it was chased by an angry mob
The 42-year-old, five-ton elephant got stuck after it tried to jump over the fence and suffocated to death because its vital organs were denied oxygen
An endangered elephant tragically suffocated to death after it tried to climb a farm fence in order to find food to eat. The elephant was found dead at the Nagarhole National Park, one of the country's premier animal reserves located in the Kodagu and Mysore district in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.
According to the Daily Mail, the five-ton pachyderm is said to have successfully managed to scale the fence, get to the farmer's field, and have its share of food before becoming stuck on its way out. Reportedly 42-years-old at the time of its death, the elephant was discovered to be from a breed that is classed as "severely endangered" by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
When we block #elephant passages, THIS happens. so heartbroken. The fencing around #Nagarahole #tiger reserve #Karnataka has killed this elephant, even as f government & even some scientists claim does no harm. My Supreme court PIL is opposing such fencing around #forests pic.twitter.com/x6waHbmqwT— prerna singh bindra (@prernabindra) 15 December 2018
The elephant was seemingly chased by a mob of angry locals after it had eaten the crops. The locals continued to chase the animal even after it moved from the farm, forcing it to try to jump or climb over the tall fence in desperation. The national park's director, KM Narayanaswamy, revealed the cause for the elephant's death stating that the animal's diaphragm had gotten compressed when it got stuck in the fence. This, in turn, resulted in its vital organs being denied oxygen, and it suffocated to death.
Heartbreaking footage captured at the scene shows several locals working together to wrench the elephant free from the fence after it died. As the video rolls, the animal can be seen becoming unstuck before falling backward and then lying motionless on the ground.
Local reports say 20 miles of fencing had been erected in 2015 by the Karnataka Forest Department to try and stop the elephants in the national park from damaging farms on the periphery of the national park. It is said to have cost the department a total of 212 crores ($3 million) to construct the fence, which is copied from the one set up at the Addo Elephant Park in South Africa.
However, the decision was almost immediately criticized by wildlife conservationists and environmentalists who warned it could result in one of the endangered animals dying. Elephant conservation expert Dr. Divya Vasudev told NDTV, "Large-scale fencing of forests which is a widely-used strategy just does not work in the long term perspective of either conflict mitigation or elephant ecology. It could perhaps help if only the fields were protected by fencing, while elephant paths remained unhindered."
But officials seem to have doubled down on their decision, with a retired forest official telling reporters that the fences had been successful in lowering the damage done to farmers' crops and that the government might consider increasing the heights of these fences further to prevent the animals from climbing them.
India currently boasts an elephant population of about 27,000, which constitutes 60% of the global Asian elephant population. However, numbers have declined by 10% since 2012, with it estimated that at least 100 of the pachyderms die in the country every year in human-related conflicts.
Watch the video of locals wrenching the elephant free of the fence here: