India-ALSHARQIYA May 14 : A forest official announced, Friday, that a lightning bolt is believed to have killed a herd of 18 wild Asian elephants in remote northeastern India.
Wildlife official Jayanta Goswami said the elephants, including five pups, were found dead during rains in the Kundali Forest Reserve.
A forest ranger arrived in the remote area on Thursday and found 14 dead elephants on top of a hill, 4 below.
Initial reports by veterinarians said that the elephants were struck by lightning, but Goswami said that an autopsy was being conducted to ascertain the exact cause of death.
The reserve is located in the Nagon district of Assam, 150 kilometers (95 miles) east of Guwahati, the state capital.
Assam is home to an estimated 6,000 or more wild Asian elephants, who constantly venture out of the forests in search of food.
Conservationists urged the government to prevent people from encroaching on forests, and to create free paths for elephants to move through the forests safely.
In recent years, wild elephants have entered villages, destroyed crops and killed a number of people, according to the Associated Press.