KUNMING - Two wild Asian elephants were electrocuted after accidentally touching a high-voltage wire Monday on a highway in southwest China's Yunnan Province, the local government said Wednesday.
The bodies of a mother and a cub were found on a highway in Mengman township, Mengla County of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, said Zhang Guoying, a press official with the Nature Reserve Administration in Xishuangbanna.
"We received reports of the accident at 8:30 am Monday and sent a team of 30 investigators and vets to the site," said Zhang. "The accident was believed to have happened at around 2 am."
Zhang said the investigators saw clear evidence of electrocution, including burns on the carcases and remnants of charred wires.
"They assume the elephants were hit by a broken wire as they walked by," he said.
A villager said the two were among a group of 10 wild elephants that roamed the town. "They came from a nearby mountain. All the rest left after the accident," he said, giving only his surname as Li.
The adult elephant was about 30 years old, 2.56 meters tall and weighed 3.1 tonnes. The cub was estimated to be 3 years old, was 1.25 meters tall and weighed 400 kg.
Their carcases were kept at a research institute of the Xishuangbanna Nature Reserve, where they would be used as specimens in anatomical studies, Zhang said.
The virgin rainforests of Xishuangbanna are home to more than 250 wild Asian elephants, about 90 percent of China's total. The heaviest elephant weighs more than 5 tonnes.
In Xishuangbanna, bananas, sugarcane, corn and dry rice have been planted over 200 hectares for wild elephants that roam the area.