The Kerala Forest department has launched a 'manhunt' for those responsible for the death of a 15-year-old pregnant wild elephant, said an official. The elephant had died after being seriously injured by firecrackers hidden in a pineapple.
Speaking to IANS Samuel Pachuau, the Wildlife Warden of the Silent Valley National Park, near here said this was a serious crime whosoever was behind it.
"We are quite certain to find the perpetrators of this crime, which is in no way acceptable at all. It was on the 23rd of last month we came to know about this incident, when the elephant was spotted near a water source outside the National park," said Pachuau.
According to him, some people had placed firecrackers inside a pineapple and this was eaten by the wild elephant and in the process of chewing the cracker burst and injured the elephant.
"We summoned a veterinarian and later on the 25th an elephant expert David Abraham came and examined and explained to us the bad situation," said Pachuau.
Abraham told IANS that from his examination it looked like a two week wound and there were worms in the wound.
"We informed the Forest officials that the prognosis was bad and two days later the elephant died in a sitting posture in the water. The next day, when we conducted the post-mortem we found a nearly two month old foetus. From the uterus we could make out it was the first pregnancy of the elephant. That sight left many of us deeply sad and moved. Only when we conducted the autopsy, we could see that the upper and lower jaw, teeth and tongue of the elephant was badly damaged. The cause of death is due to aspiration of the lungs as it was filled with water. It was a sad day for many of us," said Abraham.
Soon after the autopsy was conducted, the dead elephant was buried in the forest. "Two sets of teams are probing this incident," added Pachuau.
Even though there have been reports of man-animal conflict in the forest areas, where wild animals destroy crops of farmers, this episode has left many deeply saddened.