Kerala elephant may have accidentally eaten cracker-filled fruit: Environment ministry
Locals illegally plant explosive-filled fruits to repel wild boars from entering plantation farms, primary investigation noted.
The pregnant elephant, who died in Kerala’s Palakkad last month triggering widespread outrage, may have accidentally eaten a cracker-stuffed fruit, the Union ministry of environment has said.
The 15-year-old elephant died after chewing on a pineapple stuffed with crackers, according to initial reports, but later an autopsy conducted on her found it was a coconut, and the injuries she suffered were at least two weeks old.
“Primary investigations revealed, the elephant may have accidentally consumed in such fruit. Ministry is in constant touch with Kerala Govt & has sent them detailed advisory for immediate arrest of culprits & stringent action against any erring official that led to elephant’s death,” the ministry has said.
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It also noted locals illegally plant explosive-filled fruits to repel wild boars from entering plantation farms. The ministry has also said, in a series of tweets, one person has been arrested in connection with the elephant’s death.
“As of now, one person has been arrested & efforts are on to nab more individuals who may have participated in this illegal & utterly inhuman act. The @WCCBHQ has also been directed to act on this matter with utmost sense of urgency,” the ministry posted.
The minister of state for environment Babul Supriyo has requested people not to believe “rumours and fake news” being circulated on social media, it said. The Kerala government and all departments of the ministry are handling the matter in an unbiased manner, it added.
“We are confident of concluding the investigation sooner than later, to be followed by exemplary #LegalActions & punishment that will act as strong deterrent to committing such future acts,” it said.
The ministry had held a meeting headed by Sanjay Kumar, the director general of forests and special secretary, on Sunday with several officials to discuss the progress in the matter.
News agency PTI reported citing an unnamed official that the meeting was also attended by an official from the National Tiger Conservation Authority(NTCA), inspector general of wildlife, the additional director of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and scientists from the Elephant Cell, PTI.
The details of the meeting, however, are still awaited, it added.
The elephant’s brutal death came to light on May 27 when a forest officer wrote about it on Facebook after witnessing it.
The elephant had rushed to the nearby Velliyar River in the Silent Valley rain forest after eating the cracker-filled coconut and stood there for days with her trunk and head immersed in the water to nurse its injuries.
Forest officials rushed to save the jumbo after local people alerted them but she succumbed to her injuries on May 27. Later, locals said the elephant was around the river for more than a week.