Thiruvananthapuram

Rubber estate owner held for electrocuting elephant in Kallar

The tragic death of a wild elephant and her calf’s grief that evoked widespread sympathy in Kallar few days ago took an unexpected twist on Tuesday when the owner of the rubber estate, where the carcass was found, confessed to have electrocuted the animal.

Officials of the Palode forest range office arrested Rajesh, 45, of 26th Mile in Kallar, for the “premeditated murder.” The accused has purportedly confessed to have hung a metallic rope that he had connected to power supply from a switch board nearby. The rope, which he used to hang rubber sheets during the day time, would double up as an electric fence at night that the accused used to “eliminate the menace of incursions by wild elephants” in his property.

While the death had initially been viewed as one due to a pulmonary disease, forest officials sensed something amiss when Rajesh refused to provide statement in the case and had not returned to his house nearby since the incident had come to light on Saturday. The accused’s wife also hung up a call made to his mobile phone after a forest official asked for him. Finally, he turned up at the Palode forest range office on Tuesday to confess his alleged wrongdoing.

B. Ajith Kumar, Palode forest range officer, said Rajesh had tied the metallic rope at a height of 2 metres. This could have prevented the calf from suffering a similar fate as her mother.

“While he had gone to a relative’s house for the night on Friday after charging the wire, he returned early next day to find the elephant. He destroyed the evidence by removing the wire, following which he fled from the area,” the officer said. He added that the accused had made similar attempts in the past. But, this was the first instance of casualty.

Following his arrest, the accused who is believed to suffer from heart ailments, suffered an epileptic fit, prompting the forest officials to rush him to the Nedumangad district hospital and later, refer him to the Government Medical College Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram where he is being provided specialised treatment. Booked under the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, he will be produced before the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court (Forest Offences) in Nedumangad after being discharged.

The Forest Department awaits the findings of the detailed examinations of the internal organs removed from the deceased elephant from the State Institute for Animal Diseases, Palode. The one-and-a-half year old female calf had been shifted to the Elephant Rehabilitation Centre in Kottoor.

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Printable version | Mar 2, 2021 11:10:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/rubber-estate-owner-held-for-electrocuting-elephant-in-kallar/article33670033.ece

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