A 15-year-old male elephant died due to electrocution after coming in contact with a live wire in Benthoor village of Ooty. The wire was installed by a village resident, who also buried the pachyderm on private land in an attempt to escape action from forest officials. However, the police on Tuesday arrested three men in connection with the death.
Assistant District Forest Officer of Ooty, Saravanan, told TNM that the man had put up a fence around his home to avoid man-animal conflict. â€śOn October 13, the man connected the live wires to the battery for charging and left for Mettupalayam to sell forest produce,â€ť he said. However, his mother forgot to switch off the battery after a few hours,â€ť he said.
â€śWhen he returned the next morning, the battery had burst due to a power surge. He immediately rushed to check, and found the dead elephant,â€ť Saravanan said.
According to the official, the man immediately called two of his friends for help and also hired a few workers. They allegedly dug a pit near the elephant and buried the animal to avoid the action of forest officers. They also filled the place with cow dung to mask the smell, the Assistant District Forest Officer said.
â€śThe stomach of the pachyderm was swollen. Village residents spotted the dead animal, and immediately informed a forest guard who passed on the information to us,â€ť he added.
The forest officials have arrested three persons identified as Vigneshvaren (40), SK Gopalakrishnan (20) and G Ajitkumar (18), all from Benthoor in the Chinna Coonoor Forest Range in Ooty.
The three persons have been booked under charges of Section 9, Section 39, Section 2, Section 50 and Section 51 of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.
The accused have been remanded in North Range Office and investigations are ongoing. The Assistant Direct Forest Officer, however, denied any links of poaching and rubbished the rumours that the accused killed the animal for its tusks. The samples of the tusk were sent for a detailed check after the postmortem, he added.