PALAKKAD: A joint investigation team of police and forest department personnel took three persons into custody on Thursday for questioning in connection with the death of a 15-year-old pregnant elephant, which died after chewing on a pineapple stuffed with firecrackers at Ambalapara near Thiruvazhamkunnu a week ago. Two of them were released in the evening.
Palakkad Superintendent of Police G Sivavikram said an FIR has been registered at the Mannarkkad police station and separate cases have been registered under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and the Explosives Act, 1984. Mannarkkad Divisional Forest Officer K K Sunil Kumar submitted a report on the incident to the Conservator of Forests (Eastern circle) on Thursday.
He told TNIE that the forest department has started combing operations within 50km radius of the buffer zone of the forest using teams of eight to ten personnel each to check whether any explosives have been planted to kill wild animals. Meanwhile, Union Environment and Forest Minister Prakash Javadekar deputed a central team, comprising officials of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau to conduct a parallel probe.
Autopsy reveals wounds were one to two weeks old
Residents of Thiruvazhamkunnu told Mannarkkad police, who carried out evidence collection, that they had seen the particular elephant coming to the area from the Silent Valley forest on occasions when they went for rubber tapping in the area. On May 23, forest officials first saw the elephant in the buffer zone of the forest area. They noticed that the elephant was not eating and used to sleep for some time and was lumbering around. On May 25, it walked to the compound of a nearby house. It appeared weak.
The locals noticed that its upper and lower jaws were wrecked and it was not eating. When the wound started getting infested with flies, the pachyderm took refuge in the nearby Velliyar stream. Though the locals tried to chase it away from the stream by bursting crackers, it stayed put as it was badly injured. On May 27, forest officials brought two kumki elephants to goad the wounded elephant to come out of the stream so that it could be given treatment.
As it was being goaded on to the bank, it collapsed in the water, ostensibly because of hunger and fatigue. The elephant was cremated at Kacheriparambu after the postmortem examination. The police said the postmortem examination conducted by veterinary surgeon David Abraham revealed that its wounds were one to two weeks old. The investigation is centred around the pineapple gardens and estates in areas on the Palakkad-Malappuram border like Karuvarakundu, Mannarkkad and Nilambur.