Nine Elephants in Botswana Are Electrocuted by Power Line – The New York Times


Nine elephants were electrocuted near a village in eastern Botswana this week after they came into contact with a fallen power line near a water source, officials said.

The country’s government said in a statement on Wednesday that the Botswana Power Corporation detected problems on Monday in the power system that serves an area near the eastern village of Dukwi, and sent an official, Thabo Nlashiki, to investigate.

He discovered eight dead elephants near the broken line, which they had apparently damaged near a pool of water that had formed from a leaking pipe. A ninth elephant was near death. Electricians cut off the power flow to try to save it.

“But it was too late, as it died as well,” the government statement said. The damage had also set off a small fire that was brought under control.

Botswana, a southern African country, has up to 200,000 elephants, one of the biggest concentrations of African elephants in the world.

The country is one of 37 nations that are home to African elephants, which conservationists have designated as a vulnerable animal because of human threats like poaching for their ivory and meat.

The elephants are also threatened by the loss and fragmentation of their habitats as the land is developed for human use, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Botswana’s director of Wildlife and National Parks, Otisitswe Tiroyamodimo, told Reuters that investigations into the electrocuted elephants were still in the early stages, but that “what we have discovered so far is that the elephants were helping themselves to water from a damaged supply pipe.”

He added, “The elephants were electrocuted when they knocked down power lines, which fell into the gushing pool of water.”

An official from the government’s anti-poaching unit was quoted in the government statement as saying that stagnant water from leaks in water pipes often attracts animals.

The Botswana Power Corporation said the problem was first noticed on a transmission line that distributes electricity from a base station to other centers that then carry power to consumer areas. The line was flickering on and off, a sign that some kind of physical contact was interfering with the flow.

“The elephants are suspected to have tried to walk through the strut pole” on the way to the pond, the power company said, referring to the infrastructure that supports the lines. The pole broke, the line sagged, “and unfortunately our elephants got electrocuted leading to loss of life.”

Source: Nine Elephants in Botswana Are Electrocuted by Power Line – The New York Times

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