The news of a pregnant elephant that died in Kerala’s Palakkad, on 27 May, after she ate a fruit that was stuffed with explosives, allegedly left by some locals, drew criticism and shock from people across the country.
As the news continues to draw the ire of many, a report on the death of another elephant in the state, purportedly under similar circumstances, has surfaced.
A young female elephant is said to have died in April in similar circumstances in the Pathanapuram forests in Kollam district. The post-mortem in the second case has shown that the elephant’s jaw was fractured and officials suspect it to be due to firecrackers, reported NDTV.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden Surendrakumar told The Quint that they are investigating the case but it has been difficult to zero in on the culprits as it is a huge forest cover.
Meanwhile, social media has been buzzing with the outpouring of grief and anger over the pregnant wild elephant’s death.
It was when forest officer Mohan Krishnan, part of the Rapid Response Team in northern Kerala's Malappuram district, went to rescue a 15-year-old elephant, that the news of its plight surfaced.
“Even as the entire mankind stands helpless before a virus like the coronavirus, I have only one thing to say – sorry.”Mohan Krishnan, Forest Officer
‘Meditated Murder:’ Ratan Tata
Industrialist Ratan Tata on Wednesday tweeted calling the killing of a pregnant elephant in Kerala a ‘meditated murder,’ and sought justice for the animal.
“Such criminal acts against innocent animals are no different than acts of meditated murder against other humans," he said.
1,000 Petitions on Change.org
Over 1,000 petitions have been filed on Change.org supported by over 10 lakh people in less than a day, demanding strict action against the offenders.
Nikhil Suryavanshi, one of the petitioners, expressed how the incident made him furious and so he wanted to bring justice to the abused animal.
"A resident of Thane, I have been an animal lover since I was a child. I remember forcing my dad to take me to the zoo, way back in the 1980s when we lived in Byculla, just so I could see the elephant. As a kid, the first thing I learnt to draw was an elephant – I feel like I have a special connection with these animals. When I read about the pregnant elephant brutally killed in Kerala I was deeply hurt and angry. I wanted to do something about this and wanted the offenders to get punished and that’s when I shared my thoughts with my sister who is an advocate. She told me to create a petition on Change.org, and that is exactly what I did," he shared.
Kerala CM Assures Action
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has assured strict action against those who are responsible for killing the elephant. “Forest department is probing the case and the culprits will be brought to book,” he said.
An FIR has been lodged against unidentified people under relevant sections of Wild Life Protection Act over the incident, said Mannarkkad forest range officer.
The Kerala Forest department also took to Twitter to state Article 51-A (g) of the Indian Constitution dictates that it is the duty of every citizen to be compassionate to animals.
The wild elephant had left the forest, and was wandering in the nearby village in search of food.
The explosion had badly injured her tongue and mouth and the elephant walked around the village, in searing pain and hunger.
Earlier, forest officer Mohan Krishnan spoke about the elephant feeding on a pineapple, although there’s lack of clarity on what fruit the animal fed on.
“She trusted everyone. When the pineapple she ate exploded, she must have been shocked to not think about herself, but about the child she was going to give birth to in 18 to 20 months.”Mohan Krishnan, Forest Officer
“We are suspecting that the elephant fell prey to the explosive snare used to fend off wild boars. But there is no evidence now to suggest that it was intentionally fed such an explosive,” KK Sunil Kumar, Mannarkkad Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), told The News Minute.
Forest officials said investigation was underway to ascertain the cause of the incident.
Using snares to trap or kill an animal is a punishable offence under the Wildlife Protection Act.
‘Full of Goodness’
Mohan Krishnan had taken to Facebook to tell how, “She didn’t harm a single human being even when she ran in searing pain in the streets of the village. She didn’t crush a single home. This is why I said, she is full of goodness.”
The elephant had walked to the Velliyar River, and stood with her mouth and trunk in the water. She probably felt this would give her some relief, said the forest officer who wrote a Facebook post on the tragedy on 30 May.
Two captive elephants, Surendran and Neelakanthan, were brought to bring her out of water but after a number of attempts, she died at 4 pm on 27 May.
The elephant was cremated inside the forest.
"She needs to be given the farewell she deserves. For that, we took her inside the forest in a lorry. She lay there on firewood, in the land she played and grew up in. The doctor who did her post-mortem told me that she was not alone. I could sense his sadness though the expression on his face was not visible due to his mask. We cremated her in a pyre there. We bowed before her and paid our last respects," the forest officer said.
Locals Draw Flak
This incident has led to wide outrage with many slamming the locals for the brutal animal abuse. Actors and IFS officers took to social media to condemn the act and expressed shock and concern. Many even lamented how ‘humans deserved to be cursed with a virus’ because of such inhuman acts.