An endangered elephant has died of suffocation in the Nagarhole National Park, India, after it got stuck in an attempt to hurdle the fence.
Local media reports said that the animal successfully hurdled the fence and went to eat from a farmer’s field but got stuck on its way back after villagers tried to drive it away from the farm.
As the Daily Mail reported, Nagarhole National Park director K.M. Narayanaswamy told media that the enormous animal’s diaphragm was compressed when it was stuck, causing its vital organs to be deprived of oxygen, which resulted to the elephant’s death.
As reported by India’s News 18, a forest department official explained that unlike other mammals, elephants have massive lungs that are directly attached to the chest cavity and the diaphragm, and they breathe by reflexively moving their chest and diaphragm.
“What this means is that if the chest or diaphragm is squeezed too much, the animal will die. Its body is adapted to ensure that it doesn’t ever put any pressure on its chest. However in this case, the more the elephant struggled to get free, the more it exerted pressure on its chest and eventually suffocated.”
A heartbreaking video clip captured in the park shows a group of rescuers trying to push the animal off the fence. The video then shows the tragic moment when the elephant fell backwards and lied motionless on the ground.
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) December 15, 2018
The report further stated that at the time of its death, the elephant was 42-years-old. It belonged to a breed which has been classified by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as “severely endangered.”
According to local reports, 20 miles of fences were erected in the park to stop elephants from going into farmers’ field because the animals damaged their crops.
Conservationists, environmentalists, and animal rights advocacy groups have criticized the park’s decision to erect the fences — which were installed using state funds — because it led to an endangered animal’s undue death.
The report also quoted H.C. Kantharaju, a retired forest official, as saying that “the fences had lowered the damage done to farmers’ crops and that the height of the fences could be increased to try and stop elephants from climbing over them.”
The News 18 report, however, quoted another who said that the fences have had limited success since their inception.
“We have had several cases of sub-adult elephants and calves being able to get their way through. We have also had other cases where elephants have successfully managed to clamber over the fence,” he informed.
“We have also had a few cases of tuskers getting stuck while trying to crawl from underneath it. It is also very expensive to set up and maintain.”