Kerala Elephant Death: 1 Person Arrested as Police Intensify Probe

Many reports allege that the elephant was fed a pineapple stuffed with firecrackers. This is however false.

Updated05 Jun 2020, 07:16 AM IST
India
3 min read

One person was arrested for the death of the pregnant elephant in Kerala’s Palakkad, state forest minister K Raju said on Friday, 5 June.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden Surendrakumar told The Quint that a local named Wilson who lives near the forest has been arrested.

The arrest comes just a day after top forest officials told The Quint that reports alleging that the animal was fed a pineapple stuffed with firecrackers ‘on purpose’ were false.

Kerala Forest Minister K Raju on Friday assured, “Forest department has appointed three teams for investigation. Police is also investigating the matter. Strict action will be taken so that a similar incident is not repeated.”

The brutal death of a pregnant elephant in Kerala has created a furore across the country.

It was when forest officer Mohan Krishnan, part of the Rapid Response Team in Kerala, went to rescue a 15-year-old elephant, that the news of its death surfaced.Social media has been buzzing with the outpouring of grief and anger demanding strict action be taken against the offenders.

‘Not Intentionally Done to Kill a Pregnant Elephant’

Mannarkkad District Forest Officer K Sunil Kumar clarified that there is no confirmation that the animal had consumed a pineapple, as dictated by media reports.

He said that the locals could not have fed a fruit stuffed with live firecrackers to a wild elephant inside the forest as that would be very dangerous.

“The animal had sustained injuries because of explosives in its mouth. This was an act done by some people living in the forest fringes to keep the animals away from his or her cultivated land. But this was not done intentionally to kill a pregnant elephant,” he told The Quint.

Surendrakumar, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden too told The Quint, “There was an explosion in the mouth of the elephant but whether it was due to a pineapple stuffed with firecrackers is still not clear. We don’t have any concrete evidence to confirm this.”

Country Bombs - ‘A Common Method to Capture Animals’

Forest officials alleged that country bombs and snares are often used by locals to keep animals, such as boars, away from their fields. However, this is a punishable offence.

“This is a common method by some to capture animals. Some use country bombs also. Because of our perambulation the forest department has contained this a lot. in fact the use of crackers has largely reduced,” said Mannarkkad DFO.

Forest officials said that most often wild boars spoil crops and so snares are used to protect the crops. But other animals like elephants, leopards, fox, monkeys and dogs too fall prey to these traps.

Surendrakumar condemned the use of snares against any animals and said the department is keeping a close watch.

FIR Lodged the Very Next Day

The initial autopsy reports have revealed that the incident took place 7-10 days before 27 May when the animal finally died, said the forest officer. This has made it difficult for the officials to zero in on the offenders. However, they are investigating and trying to gather as much evidence to hold the abusers accountable.

An FIR was lodged against unidentified people under relevant sections of Wild Life Protection Act over the incident, on 28 May, a day after the incident took place, confirmed Surendrakumar.

The Forest Department has registered the FIR under section 9 (prohibition of hunting any wild animal specified in Schedules I, II, III and IV) and section 51 (offence committed in relation to any animal specified in Schedule I or Part II of Schedule II or meat of any such animal or animal article, trophy or uncured trophy derived from such animal or offence related to hunting in a sanctuary or a National Park) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Wild elephants are protected species under Schedule 1 of the Act.

Incident Took Place in Palakkad, Not Malappuram

There has been an outpouring on social media giving the news a communal colour. Many statements have been made holding the Muslim-dominated Malappuram responsible for the death of the elephant.

The elephant was found dead in the Velliyar river which flows through Palakkad district. This is situated in the Kottopadam panchayat in Mannarkad in Palakkad district.

K Sunil Kumar, Divisional Forest Office, Mannarkkad, confirmed the same.

The elephant had been spotted in the village a few days before the incident as well. The forest also falls in the Malappuram - Palakkad border, which is the only connection to the former.

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Published: 04 Jun 2020, 09:04 AM IST
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