As the tragic death of a pregnant elephant in Kerala after it ate a pineapple filled with explosives continues to generate shock and anger, a second elephant death has emerged from the state. A young female elephant reportedly died in April in a similar manner in the forests in Kollam district.
A post-mortem shows this elephant suffered jaw fractures that "could have been through something it consumed," but it is not confirmed yet. Forest officials say a chemical analysis report is awaited. "We suspect it to be crackers," a senior forest official said, reports the NDTV.
Officials found her near a stream in the Pathanapuram forests. "She was very weak and we could not tranquilise her. We did try to give her some medication but she moved away a few kilometers. The next day, she had collapsed," said forest official.
There has been an outpouring of grief for a pregnant wild elephant from Silent Valley that died after eating a pineapple filled with firecrackers. After the fruit exploded in her mouth, the elephant walked for days in pain before she went into a river and died standing on May 27.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said strict action would be taken against those responsible for the elephant's death. "The forest department is probing the case and the culprits will be brought to book," Mr Vijayan said.
Photos shared on social media showed the elephant standing in the river with her mouth and trunk in water, perhaps for some relief from the unbearable pain. She died in that position.
"We don't know when the incident happened. But because of the starvation and shrinking of the elephant, we suspect that it would have happened around 20 days ago," forest officer Aashique Ali said.
The heartbreaking incident surfaced after Mohan Krishnan, a forest officer, posted an emotional note on his Facebook page. "When we saw her she was standing in the river, with her head dipped in the water. She had a sixth sense that she was going to die. She took the Jalasamadhi in the river in a standing position," Krishnan, who was tasked with bringing the elephant back to the shore, wrote.
The elephant had left the forests of Silent Valley and strayed into a nearby village in search of food.
Pineapples or similar fruits with country-made crackers are usually used by locals to protect their fields against wild boars. According to forest officials, the elephant is suspected to have eaten one of such fruits.
"I have directed the forest officials to arrest the culprit. We will punish him for ''hunting'' the elephant," Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden Surendrakumar told PTI.
Investigating such incidents is difficult because elephants travel several km a day and locating the place where they may have eaten the fruit is not easy, according to officials. Forest officials come across such incidents after the elephants are found separated from their herds, that too weeks later.