Electric cables kill three elephants

three elephants were electrocuted in a wildlife sanctuary in northern India after they uprooted a utility pole and became caught in its 10,000-volt wires.

Their charred, entangled bodies were found near the village of Bodhiyakala on the edge of the Dudhwa National Park in Uttar Pradesh state, Vijay Pandey, a forest official, said yesterday.

The elephants, a male, a female and a "sub-adult", were part of a herd which has been moving through the park in the Himalayan foothills for several days. Mr Pandey said veterinarians would conduct post-mortem examinations then the animals would be buried in the park, about 155 miles south-east of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh.

India's wild elephant population is estimated at about 26,000. In Jharkhand state, at least 30 elephants have been electrocuted over the past 10 years. Officials blame the power companies for placing their poles in vulnerable spots, and say the cables often hang low enough to catch grazing elephants.

Although the threat to elephants in India is not as dramatic as that facing tigers, the steady decline of their population worries wildlife activists.

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