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Earlier this year, the death of cattle’s were recorded due to the sudden death caused by lightning strike. This incident occurred twice at Ondo State in different areas.

First, it was reported that 36 cows were found dead, which was caused by lightning in Ijare community in Ifedore Local Government Area of Ondo State on Saturday, September 21. It was also reported that 8 cows were found dead at Ikare Akoko town in Akoko North-East Local Government Area on October 23, 2019. The herdsmen immediately invited butchers to buy the dead animals.

Nigerians in their opinion about the incidents believed that there were supernatural forces at play that caused the lightning and subsequent death of the cows.

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However, in a twist of events, on Monday, hundreds of reindeers were discovered dead on Norway’s Hardangervidda Plateaus after a local thunderstorm. It was stated that the leading theory at the time of publication remains that the animals were struck and killed by lightning. It was also gotten from alternative theories that the death could have come from a previous disease or due to shock resulting from a nearby lightning strike.

Discovery World interviewed Professor Volker Hinrichsen, the Head of High voltage laboratory at the Technische Universitat Darmstadt and he gave more explanation to why lightning killed the reindeer.

During the interview, when asked ” how could so many animals die from a lightning strike? , He said; “Lightning usually has several points of contact. You may have different strike points in a radius of one Kilometer ( 0.6 miles). That may explain why a group of animals can be hit. Also, when lightning terminates on the ground, very high currents have to flow 200,000 amps .” for example, and if the electrical conductivity of the ground is isn’t good, the current flow very tightly to the surface. That means we will have so-called ” step voltage” along the surface of the ground – you can measure voltage differences between different points on the ground ( wherever you step). So if you take a big step , you have a voltage differences between two points that are, 80 centimeters apart. The current will then mainly flow through two parts of our bodies ( our two legs and abdomen) but it doesn’t flow through our heart. That is totally different with animals. Animals have wider steps, maybe 1.5 or two meters wide, so the step voltage is much higher. The current, if it flows through the front and back legs, will always flow through the animals heart. So the risk of death is much higher for animals during such an event.

Discovery World: So giraffes are at a higher risk during an electric strike than, a mouse, because giraffes take longer steps?

Professor Volker Hinrichsen : That’s true, Cattle, for example, are also very sensitive to lightning strikes. A little mouse has a very low risk of being hit or being hurt by a lightning strike.

Discovery World – And a bear walking on all fours is at high risk.. but if it stands upon two legs, it’s at a lower risk?

Professor Volker Hinrichsen : There are two different kinds of risk. If a bear is walking on all four legs, it will take higher step voltages but the risk of being hit is lower. If he’s standing upright, the risk of step voltage is lower but the risk of being directly hit is higher. Because he is two, 2.5 meters tall.

Discovery World – So bears are just out of luck?

Professor Volker Hinrichsen – Yes

Discovery World – How can people protect themselves?

Professor Volker Hinrichsen : Both feet should be kept close together. That means you won’t take high voltage between your two feet since they are very close, and squat down into a ball

Discovery World – What the best kind of ground to stand on?

Professor Volker Hinrichsen – Humid Soil, if you have soil where plants are growing, and that has had some rain, for example, then the soil’s very humid and the electrical conductivity is very high. On the other hand, the worst case is the rocky ground. On the other hand, the worst case is Rocky ground. In ( Norway’s Hardangervidda Plateau), which is filled with rocks and hills, then I assume there’s really Rocky ground with very, very low Conductivity. So that explains why step voltage is very h

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