Although the Asian Elephants are already classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List, the gentle giants seem to be finding new ways to die an untimely death!
These elephants are known for messing with humans as the latter encroach into the wild for their prosperity, leading to the animals electrocuting themselves when they try to trespass croplands fenced by electrified GI wires.
They also sometimes stand in front of a bullet's trajectory, and get killed as a result.
This time in Sherpur, near the Indian border, an elephant calf managed to die from overeating, as per the Forest Department officials. Wildlife experts and conservationists, however, rejected the report and presented evidence of the elephant being killed by electrocution.
Just a day after a case was filed against four people in Sherpur for killing an elephant, this dead elephant calf was spotted in Nalitabari of the same district.
The FD officials, after having the carcass examined by the veterinary surgeons of the livestock department, stated that the elephant died from overeating paddy.
The FD officials also told the press that there was no electricity in the area where the calf died, electrified GI fences being one of the major causes of elephant death in recent times.
Wildlife experts begged to differ.
Having examined the body of the dead calf on the spot, Dr Monirul H Khan, a wildlife researcher and professor of zoology at Jahangirnagar University, said, "The elephant died from electrocution. We saw injury marks on its trunk caused by electric wire."
Shahanul Karim Chapol, a wildlife photographer who was accompanying Dr Khan, wrote in a Facebook post, "Locals confirmed that some people set up an electric trap using a generator, and killed the elephant."
"Some people were digging a hole to bury the carcass of the elephant, and they fled when we reached there. If the elephant was not killed, why would those people act that way?" Chapol added.
Confusion also surrounds the sex of the calf. Although the Forest Department officials said it was female, Chapol posted a photo of what appeared to be a male genitalia of the dead calf.
ASM Jahir Uddin Akon, Director of The Wildlife Crime Control Unit (WCCU) told The Business Standard that it is sometimes difficult to determine the sex of a very young elephant. He, however, stood by the post mortem report.
"Designated government officials systematically examined the body and determined the cause of the death. I will not comment on what others might have found looking at external symptoms."
The official stressed that the government is adamant to stop elephant killing.
Just a day before the elephant calf died, the minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Shahab Uddin, while speaking as the chief guest at the inaugural programme of the "Consultation Meeting on Strengthening Law Enforcement to Eradicate Illegal Trafficking of Wildlife" organised by the Forest Department and Wildlife Conservation Society at Hotel Pan Pacific Sonargaon, said significant progress has been made under the leadership of the Forest Department to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement officials in detecting, identifying and prosecuting wildlife-related crimes.
At the same event, the secretary of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry, Mostafa Kamal said, "The government would not tolerate elephant killing by any means including the setting up of live electric wires."
The secretary also stated that he would not stop until he saw the end of this practice.
Ministry officials confirmed that the secretary had a word with divisional officials as the latter were summoned to the capital after the consecutive elephant deaths in Sherpur.
Over the past two weeks, at least seven wild elephants were killed across the last habitats of Asian Elephants in the country: Sherpur, Chattogram and Cox's Bazar. One elephant was shot dead, and others were killed either by electrocution or other unknown means.
Wild elephants could be found in most of our forests a century ago, but now they can be seen only in a few locations. According to a joint survey conducted by IUCN and Forest Department in 2016, there were 268 resident wild elephants, 93 migratory elephants and 96 captive elephants in the country. Many of these remaining elephants have been killed since that survey.
The latest spate of killings is being seen as a serious blow to the already dwindling number of the magnificent giants.