Kerala elephant death: Tenant farmer held, more arrests likely

Police arrest one in the accidental killing of an elephant in Kerala; three detained

Kerala Police on Friday arrested a tenant farmer for the recent death of a pregnant elephant.

The arrested, Wilson, hails from Malappuram district.

"The first arrest in the wild elephant death case was recorded on Friday," Kerala Forest Department announced in a tweet.

The elephant's death had sent shock waves across the country raising concerns regarding the safety of animals in Kerala.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Thursday that three people were under the scanner of the joint investigation team of Kerala Police and Kerala Forest Department.

The 15-year-old elephant had chomped on firecracker-laden pineapple used to scare off wild boars on May 26. It burst on her mouth and she died in the Velliyar River on May 27.

Onmanorama spoke to Forest Department official Mohanan Krishnan, who had first reported the death through his Facebook post, to know the turn of events that led to the elephant's death.

Kerala elephant death: Tenant farmer held, more arrests likely

“We found the pregnant elephant in the Velliyar river (near the border of Palakkad and Malappuram districts) on May 26 evening. Her condition looked so bad. She kept her trunk immersed in water to keep the flies that swarmed around her wound away. She looked weak with shrunken stomach," Mohanan told Onmanorama.

Rapid Response Team of the Palakkad Forest Division had brought two 'kumki' elephants – Surendran and Neelakandan – to rescue her. "But our efforts went in vain as she succumbed to her injuries at 4pm on May 27. We stood watching her die in the standing position," he recounted.

He said nobody knew about her pregnancy until the carcass was taken for post-mortem. "The veterinary surgeon who did the autopsy told me that she was pregnant," he said.

The elephant and the foetus were cremated later.

Emotional Facebook post

On May 27, Mohanan Krishnan had written an emotional note on Facebook. “She would have walked into the village in search of food. She didn't know how selfish human beings were... She ate the pineapple or some fruit thinking it was something consumable. When it exploded, all she thought about would have been the new life she was about to give birth to,” the post read.

The officer had also posted the picture of the elephant standing in the river.

“Though it ran into the human settlement with pain, it made sure not to hurt a human being or destroy any house,” he wrote.

A wildlife crime investigation team from Kozhikode is probing the incident.

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