Preliminary enquiry by forest and police officials revealed that the elephant was shot dead when farmers of the locality fired at a herd that entered agricultural lands. However, the elephant’s killing has shocked forest and wildlife enthusiasts alike. Forest department officials said the incident occurred at Ulipanda village near Thally, about a kilometre away from the Jawalagiri Reserve Forest’s boundary and equidistant from the Karnataka border.
The piece of land where the incident took place belonged to M Ramu (42) of the village. P Chinnapaiyan (45) of the same village had taken 1.5 acres of that land on lease and cultivated ragi and tomato on it. Chinnapaiyan had harvested ragi and stocked the harvest and stood vigil for the tomato plants on Monday night in a thatched roof shed erected close to the plants. Around 12.30 am on Tuesday, a herd of four elephants that were attracted by the smell of ragi and tomato plants strayed out of the forest.
Farmers A Pasavaraj (45), S Ramamurthy (44), D Mathesh (46) and V Seneeran (45) who were guarding crops in the nearby fields also rushed to Chinnapaiyan’s aid to help chase the herd into the forest. Police said that Pasavaraj who had an illegal country made gun fired at the elephant twice, which hit the pachyderm on the forehead, leaving it dead on the spot. The farmers then fled the place.
On Tuesday morning, fellow villagers spotted the dead elephant with injuries on its head and alerted forest officials. The Conservator of Forests for Dharmapuri Zone Ashish Kumar Srivastava, District Forest Officer for Krishnagiri P Rajendran, Hosur Sub Collector Senthil Raj and Revenue officials rushed to the spot and conducted preliminary enquiry.
Veterinarian V Prakash, who conducted the autopsy, retrieved two bullets from the animal’s forehead and ascertained the cause of death. In the presence of hundreds of villagers, the carcass was buried in a pit. A senior forest official said that the killing of the female elephant was rare and shocking. “Males were hunted in the past for their tusks,” a senior official told DTNext.
On a complaint lodged by the Thally Police and after enquiries, farmers Mathesh and Ramamurthy were arrested. Police are on the lookout for four others including Pasavaraj, who reportedly fired at the elephant.