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Forest officials suspect that the elephant could have injured its mouth after biting some fruit stuffed with explosives.

Elephant which had injured jaw and stomach tumour found dead in Kerala forest
news Wildlife Sunday, July 05, 2020 - 10:15

A five-year-old elephant, which was found with a fractured jaw, died on Friday night at Attappady in Palakkad district. This comes a month after a pregnant elephant’s death had sparked widespread outrage.

The pachyderm, which was reportedly unable to eat, was found in a frail state by the forest officials at Veetikkundu in Agali forest range on Thursday. However, it died on Friday night, the officials said.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wild Life) and Chief Wildlife Warden Surendra Kumar said they suspect that the elephant could have bitten a coconut or some fruit stuffed with explosives.

"There are three possibilities that could have led to the animal's death. There were injuries in the elephant's mouth and it could be because the animal consumed explosives stuffed in coconut or some fruit. It had a tumour in the stomach and was also suffering from pneumonia," he told PTI.

The elephant is suspected to have strayed from the neighbouring Tamil Nadu forests as it had not been spotted earlier in any herds by forest officials so far, the official said.

The Tamil Nadu forest is hardly two to three kilometres from the area where it was found, he said.

The animal's post-mortem was conducted on Saturday morning.

Dr Arun Sakaria, Chief Forest Veterinary Officer, said "The animal had a fractured mandible (lower jaw), had a split tongue and was suffering from pneumonia. It also had a tumour in the abdomen. We have collected the samples and sent it for forensic tests. Samples have also been submitted for a toxicology test."

According to Dr Arun, though there are no external injuries, they were not ruling out the possibility of the elephant consuming an explosive-laden fruit, which could have exploded in its mouth.

Forest officials said that the people from tribal hamlets in the area had informed them about the elephant.

On May 27, a 15-year-old pregnant wild elephant in the Silent Valley Forest fell prey to the illegal practice of setting up fruits stuffed with explosives as a snare to kill or catch wild boars. The crackers had exploded in the pregnant elephant’s mouth.

The elephant, which was in severe pain following the injuries suffered about a week prior to its death, had taken refuge in the Killiyar river, and succumbed on May 27. It was during post-mortem that it was found that the animal was pregnant.

The incident had come to light after a forest officer posted an emotional post.

To prevent wild animals, especially wild boars, from destroying their crops, local people put up such fruit traps filled with crackers. Only one person has been arrested in the case relating to the death of the pregnant elephant. Two accused in the case are still absconding.

Read: Pregnant Kerala elephant: Eyewitnesses recount days leading up to death

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