Kerala

Elephant’s death kicks up a row

The carcass of a pregnant elephant at a stream at Mannarkkad in Palakkad. The animal spent more than two days in the waterbody in pain after allegedly biting an explosives-filled fruit and attempts to rescue it with the help of a kumki elephant proved futile.

The carcass of a pregnant elephant at a stream at Mannarkkad in Palakkad. The animal spent more than two days in the waterbody in pain after allegedly biting an explosives-filled fruit and attempts to rescue it with the help of a kumki elephant proved futile.   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The death of a pregnant elephant in a stream at Thiruvizhamkunnu, near Mannarkkad, in Palakkad district on May 27 has kicked up a row with a section of the national media as well as social media branding it as an act of human cruelty.

The elephant death came to light two days ago when a forest officer played it up in a sensational way on his Facebook post. The elephant was found sick and had waded into the Velliyar stream near the Thiruvizhamkunnu forest station under the Mannarkkad forest division. It spent more than two days in the stream, often coming to the shore for a brief while.

Forest officers tried to save it by using a kumki elephant. However, before the kumki could touch it, the pachyderm succumbed to its injuries.

Death due to asphyxia

After conducting an autopsy, the elephant was found to have been pregnant and had its jaw bone broken. The death was due to asphyxia as a result of water entering its lungs and trachea. However, it was presumed that the elephant had died after biting an pineapple allegedly filled with explosives. Following the FB post, news spread that the elephant had been fed by some people with the intention of killing it.

“We are suspecting that the elephant had fallen prey to an explosive snare used to fend off wild boars. But there is no evidence to suggest that it was intentional,” said K.K. Sunil Kumar, Mannarkkad Divisional Forest Officer.

Forest officers said there was no proof of the elephant having eaten the explosive-filled pineapple. But it is a practice among some farmers living in the forest fringes to use such explosive-snare to kill wild boars. A detailed report of the autopsy is expected soon.

The State government, meanwhile, has ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident. Forest officers indicated that they had information about some people who could be suspected in the case.

Reward offered

Meanwhile, ANI quoted animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi as linking the elephant’s death to Malappuram and its people. She said Malappuram was the most violent district in the country.

The Humane Society International (HIS), India, one of the largest animal protection organisations in the world, has offered a reward of ₹50,000 for helping to identify those who were believed to have set the explosive trap that killed the elephant.

Team to probe

While condemning the alleged killing of the wild elephant, the HSI asked the people who can provide any information leading to the identification of the culprits to contact it on 7674922044 or at india@hsi.org.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday constituted a wildlife crime investigation team to probe the killing of the pregnant elephant.

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Printable version | Aug 14, 2020 7:53:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/elephant-death-kicks-up-a-row/article31741930.ece

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