Officials in the coastal east Indian state of Odisha say they have lost at least 296 elephants over the past five years, with many thought to have been the victims of electrocution.

The Press Trust of India news agency reports that many of the elephants died after coming in contact with damaged but live electricity wires. Some were the victims of poaching, some were hit by trains and some succumbed to diseases.

Elephants are thought sacred by Hindus and they are worshipped during religious festivals but humans are encroaching on their habitats as populations grow.

India reportedly currently has about 26,000 elephants in the wild and Odisha’s environment secretary says to the Press Trust of India news agency that a joint committee of experts from forest, environment and energy departments would be set up to help prevent their unnecessary death.