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Current Affairs

Elephant deaths due to lightning strike

Date: 18 May 2021 Tags: Biodiversity

Issue

An elephant herd was killed during a lightning strike atop a hill in Assam. Preliminary investigation has supported the claim but detailed result is yet to come.

 

Background

Lightning may be harmless if it is of low intensity but may prove to be deadly if living beings are on tall structures such as buildings or hills.

 

Details

  • There are various ways in which lightning may have killed the elephants. Their tall body may have exposed them to dangers.

  • Elephants are tall beings. Their height makes them bigger than other objects in the area, making them vulnerable to direct flash.

  • Sometimes, a lightning striking on a tree may give rise to a side flash that can strike any animal standing below the tree.

  • If the animal’s body is in contact with the object stuck by lightning while it is grounded, may also allow current to pass through.

  • In the case, it appears that elephants were killed due to current passing through the ground. The intensity of such current is enough to kill such large numbers.

  • Usually, tall tree take the brunt of the lightning. In this particular area of Bamuni Hill there are no tall trees and elephants were the victims.

 

Vulnerability of elephants

  • Elephant’s front and hind legs are wide apart. This creates a difference in potential that allows current to pass through.

  • Being one of the tallest animals, elephants have been vulnerable to lightning strikes. Their chances of getting stuck are high.