A 55-year-old woman forest guard, working in Kurumbapatti Zoological Park here, was killed by a female elephant, Andal, that went berserk at the park on Thursday.
Forest sources told The Hindu that the elephant, while on the routine morning stroll with mahouts Palanisamy and Kaliappan, suddenly became furious and caught hold of D. Padmini who was sweeping the entrance of the Zoological Park. Before the mahouts could react, the elephant slammed her on the floor and later stomped with its hind legs. She died instantly.
A senior Forest official said that the 62-year-old elephant became belligerent suddenly. “We have appointed two mahouts for her. She has been kept under their surveillance all 24 hours. But today’s incident was unfortunate and sad,” he said. Ms. Padmini had been working in the Park for eight months now. Prior to her posting at this park, she had worked in Panamarathupatti Reserve Forests.
The elephant, which was suffering from tuberculosis, was brought to Salem Zoological Park in 2009 from Madurai Sri Kallazhagar Temple. She was first taken to Mudumalai sanctuary where the forest officials denied her entry since the disease was contagious. Then she was brought to Salem on orders from Madras High Court based on a writ petition filed by Chennai-based animal welfare activist and lawyer G. Rajendran.
The court then observed that ailing and domesticated animals, including elephants, should not be kept in sanctuaries such as Mudumalai as it would infect other domesticated and wild animals. After Andal was diagnosed with TB, she became restless and the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Board had ordered her shifting from Madurai to Thorapalli in Mudumalai and later to Salem.