3 arrested for killing elephant with explosives in Kerala’s Kollam

The 10-year-old female elephant died on April 11 at Karavoor in Pathanapuram town, Kollam district.
3 arrested for killing elephant with explosives in Kerala’s Kollam
3 arrested for killing elephant with explosives in Kerala’s Kollam
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Two months after a female elephant ate a fruit stuffed with explosives in Kerala’s Kollam district, the Pathanapuram Forest Range officials have arrested three accused in the case. The elephant died on April 11 at Karavoor in Pathanapuram town, Kollam district. An FIR (first information report) was registered in April.

The accused have been identified as Renjith, Animon and Sharath, all natives of Karavoor. The police are, however, yet to nab three more in the case. The three arrested were produced at Punnala Model Forest Station on Wednesday.

The forest officials said the 10-year-old female elephant fell prey to a trap set up to catch a wild animal. According to reports, the elephant had injured its mouth after the fruit exploded. It could not drink water or eat food and returned to the forest area, where it eventually died.

Speaking to the media, Punalur Divisional Forest’s Officer (DFO) said, "The culprits had stuffed pineapple pieces with explosives meant for wild boars and deer. But it happened that the elephant accidentally bit into it and injured itself."

According to Pathanapuram Range Officer, the six are known to be hunters, engaged in killing wild boars, sambar deer and python for its meat and skin.

The officials have seized pineapples, bones that appeared to be of wild animals, some substances likely used to make country explosives and a rifle from the accused.

It is yet to be ascertained if the three arrested are directly involved in killing the elephant, but they have been booked for offences related to hunting wild animals.

The six have been booked under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 for hunting, and Kerala Forest Act, 1961 for offences related to trespassing.

The elephant that died in Kollam was spotted by some villagers in Karavoor area. They found it in an injured state. Reports said that though the forest officials had tried to rescue it to administer treatment for two days, it proved futile. The female elephant finally succumbed on April 11 in the forest.

"We had formed a special team consisting of the police and forest officials and ever since this incident came to our notice after the wild elephant died, this team was on the prowl," said a forest official told PTI.

"The special team first tracked the movement of this particular wild elephant and then was after a few people. Their movement and all other things were closely monitored and finally, they were tracked down and the arrest was made," added a forest official.

Although the elephant died in April, this incident came to light when a 15-year-old pregnant elephant died in a similar manner on May 27 in Palakkad and had caught nationwide attention. The pregnant elephant’s death in Palakkad had put pressure on officials to find the culprits.

In the death of a one-month pregnant elephant in Palakkad, the police and forest officials confirmed that the elephant accidentally bit a coconut stuffed with explosives. Two plantation owners and a worker have been named accused in the case. The officials said that the accused had set up the snare to kill wild boars for its meat.

Both the elephant deaths have put the spotlight back on the common, yet, illegal practice where farmers set up snares to keep away wild boars that destroy their crops. Some also set up such food baits to kill these boars for their meat. However, often elephants, tigers and other wild animals in forest areas often fall prey to these traps.

On Wednesday, the Kerala government decided to form a combined task force to tackle the incidences of man-animal conflict. Tribal beat officers will be assigned on a contract basis to check on people attacking wild animals.

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