The Forest department has begun a hunt to nab the killers of two wild elephants at Kumbidi Itchapuram village in the Palakonda forest range, about 50 km from here.

Though the incident took place 10 days ago, it was noticed only on Thursday night. After a preliminary inquiry, forest officials on Friday confirmed that the two female elephants — out of a herd of six that had been causing havoc in several villages along the Burna reserve forest — were killed.

The police said locals killed the elephants, resorting to the khedda method, in which a massive pit is dug and covered with leaf litter.

The animals were then chased in that direction and, after they fell into the pit, killed. Forest guards found the carcasses after a foul smell started emanating from the buried site, according to Divisional Forest Officer Mohammad Thayyab. The carcasses were covered with litter and dried bushes, making it difficult for them to unearth the remains.

“We have been trying to gather information from the locals, but all of them were maintaining silence to save the accused,” Mr. Thayyab told The Hindu.

Experts from the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park would soon visit the site to conduct an autopsy. Senior officials from Visakhapatnam are expected to visit the Burna forest reserve on Saturday for further investigation.

During the last four years, 11 persons were killed by elephants and crops over a large area damaged in and around the Palakonda and Veeraghattam mandals.