Amidst the severe drought that Kerala has been facing this summer, the wildlife in the state has been affected too, with several wild elephants also dying due the heat. Apart from wild animals crossing the borders, away from the jungle, which results in man-animal conflict, the extreme heat is life threatening for them.
The Times of India says that at least 18 wild elephants died in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) in the last four summer months.
This happened even after Kerala forest department has put in efforts to provide water for the elephants inside the sanctuary by filling the dried ponds using water tankers.
The ToI report by Rajeev KR says that dead jumbos included three elephant calves, four sub-adults and 11 adult elephants. Among these, a few were attacked by tigers.
‚ÄúThere have been 18 elephant deaths in the sanctuary this summer, from January 1, 2017. The heat stress due to the rise in ambient temperature is believed to have lowered the immunity of elephants making them prone to systemic bacterial infections which had caused most of the deaths. The deaths showed a correlation with the rise of mercury levels with January accounting for one death, followed by five deaths in February and eight deaths in March,‚ÄĚ the ToI quotes wildlife veterinarian Dr. Arun Zachariah.
He said that elephant deaths usually increase during summer.
WWS, which has got the single largest population of Asiatic elephants, also see jumbos migrating from neighbouring sanctuaries in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
According to Dr. Arun, water scarcity alone is not the reason for the death, stress caused due to heat was also major reason. In 2007, almost 25 elephants had died and last year it was 12. This year temperature in WWS had raised four degrees compared to the previous years.
Apart from Wayand, many other forest areas in Southern Kerala too are reporting a large number of elephant deaths.