One week after a pregnant elephant in Kerala was killed after consuming fire crackers in a pineapple, an arrest has made.
The death shocked people in India and around the world, prompting officials to vow to arrest the culprits.
The Kerala Forest Department in a tweet said : “KFD has zeroed in on the culprits and recorded the first arrest in the wild elephant death case”.
Forest department sources had said yesterday that three people were under the scanner of the joint investigation team.
The elephant had wandered into villages in Silent Valley in search of food and ate fruit that had been left outside.
“The department is of the view that this is an intentional act to kill the elephant. We have registered the case against unknown offenders and very soon you will hear of the arrests,” Chief Wildlife Warden Surendra Kumar told NDTV.
Farmers are known to keep pineapples and other fruits stuffed with firecrackers to kill wild boars that ravage the crops.
Under the Wildlife Protection Act, capturing, trapping, poisoning or baiting of any wild animal or even attempting to do so carry a fine of upto ₹25,000 or a jail term of upto seven years, or both.
Expressing deep regret over the issue, the Chief Wildlife Warden said a high-level team is probing the incident and arrests will soon follow.
The forest officer who posted the matter on Facebook, said the elephant, with her insides ripped, tongue and mouth injured, had wandered around for days before walking into the Velliyar river in Palakkad district, where she died in a standing position.
“This is deeply saddening. As a guardian of wildlife animals throughout Kerala, it’s very saddening for me. On behalf of the entire department, I express my deep regret over the incident,” Kumar told NDTV. “I hope people will be more sensitive — after all, most consider human beings superior,” the officer added.
“When the pineapple or some other fruit she ate exploded, she would have been shocked/worried not about herself, it must’ve been about the child she was going to give birth to in 18 to 20 months,” another forest official, Mohan Krishnan, had written on Facebook.
In April, another wild elephant in Kerala died and she had a jaw fracture. The cause of death has not been confirmed and now, tests have been sent for chemical analysis, officials said.
“There are similarities in both the deaths. Both had injuries in the mouth. Possibility is that someone tried this (crackers) on the elephant. But the evidence is not there. Sometimes farmers use crackers wrapped in jaggery. But they are small crackers. Usually elephants don’t die with that,” Surendra Kumar said.
In some parts of Kerala, locals use crackers, sometimes mixed with food, to chase away wild animals including wild boars that ruin produce.