Wild elephant dies in Kerala’s Munnar after it is chased, attacked with earthmover
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Wild elephant dies in Kerala’s Munnar after it is chased, attacked with earthmover

The young tusker’s gory death has enraged wildlife enthusiasts and local people.

india Updated: Jul 26, 2017 21:43 IST
Tusker,Wild Elephant,Munnar
In this file photo, the wild tusker, affectionately called Chillikkompan, enjoys with his herd in Munnar forests.(Sebinster Francis/ HT Photo)

A wild elephant that entered a factory premises in Munnar, Kerala, was chased and attacked using an earthmover, leading to its death.

The tusker, Chillikkompan, as the local people affectionately call him, entered the premises of Kannan Devan Hill Plantations (KDHP) in Chenduvara, Munnar, on July 24. Enraged by the encroachment, the factory officials allegedly deputed some men with an earthmover to chase the animal away. The tusker tried to escape but was hammered on his tusk and head by the metal carrier.

The elephant stationed himself some 100 metres from the premises where it died on Tuesday, a day after it was injured.

Munnar is an ecologically sensitive area where man-animal conflicts are common. But the way a young tusker met its gory death has enraged wildlife enthusiasts and local people.

The tusker was found dead in kneeling position, with tusks buried in earth. (Irshad Hussein/HT Photo)

“There are several ways to chase an animal away. Elephants easily go away on bursting crackers or such noises. This was a deliberate act to kill him,” says Mohan Kumar, founder president, Munnar Environment and Wildlife Society (MEWS).

Sebinster Francis, a wildlife photographer and naturalist based in Munnar, involved with elephant projects, says he knew Chillikkompan for years. “It’s like losing a family member. Elephants are generally calm in nature unless in mast (heat) or provoked. They are intelligent and understanding too. Such a brutal end to a wonderful animal is unacceptable,” he says.

After the video of the incident was circulated widely through social media, forest department swung into action. “A criminal case has been filed against the factory and the driver of the earthmover has been arrested. We will probe and take action against other people involved in it too,” said KJ Varughese, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) & chief wildlife warden, Kerala. Post-mortem report confirmed internal injuries led to the tusker’s death.

Chillikkompan, in his twenties, was found dead with his tusks buried in earth, in a kneeling position. “May be he was attempting to get up,” said Sebinster.

Local people have named the elephants that frequent the area and share some mutual bonding too. “They understand their behaviour and mood,” says Sebinster.

Animal lovers have decided to take the case forward and are planning protests to punish the guilty. “According to an order by the collector, all machines, including JCBs, to move earth has been banned in the area during monsoon. Who gave KDHP to bring in an earthmover to its premises?” asks Sebinster.

“People here live in constant fear of attack by wild animals. But that is no reason to kill an animal in such a way. The video clips of the act shows the sadistic behaviour of people involved in it,” said KP Santhosh Kumar, principal, Government Vocational Higher Secondary School, Munnar. “Hunting animals for meat is common in Munnar forests,” he added.

Even after repeated attempts, KDHP officials were not available for comments.

First Published: Jul 26, 2017 20:17 IST