Selfie attempt kills man in Bengaluru’s Bannerghatta Park, elephant tramples him to death

The 27-year-old man had allegedly illegally entered the Bannerghatta Biological Park after consuming alcohol.
Selfie attempt kills man in Bengaluru’s Bannerghatta Park, elephant tramples him to death
Selfie attempt kills man in Bengaluru’s Bannerghatta Park, elephant tramples him to death
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In a tragic incident, a man, who had allegedly illegally entered the Bannerghatta Biological Park in Bengaluru was crushed to death while trying to click a selfie with an elephant.

According to the Bannerghatta Police Station sub inspector Naveen, 27-year-old Abhilash, had entered the park illegally and tried to click a selfie with the elephant Sundar.

 “The victim was a sales representative and a resident of Bengaluru’s Hanumanthanagar. Abhilash and his friends had gone to the park on Tuesday evening. The park is closed on Tuesdays, so the group had entered the park from the side where the Hakki-Pikki Colony is located,” SI Naveen said.

Abhilash and three of his friends had allegedly consumed alcohol before entering the biological park, said the police. The group had entered an area where 20 elephants were kept in enclosures.

"The three others, who saw Abhilash being attacked by the elephant ran away and remained silent. However, they confessed to being with Abhilash on Tuesday evening when a few of their other friends informed us. The three others will be questioned later today," SI Naveen added.

Police say that Abhilash was fond of elephants.

Sundar, a 16-year-old elephant, who was subject to cruelty at a temple in Kolhapur became popular after a lengthy trial, demanding his release from captivity.

“These elephants are the ones which were rescued and hence they were kept in enclosures. They display highly aggressive behaviour because of the abuse and are currently being trained. This area is called the elephant care centre. On Tuesday evening, at around 6.30pm, I received a call from one of the employees of the park, who informed me of the man’s death,” said Santosh Kumar, Director of the Bannerghatta Biological Park.

Director Santosh said that the employee found Abhilash inside the enclosure and was already dead.

“Our employee pulled him outside. The park is closed on Tuesdays and it was clear he had trespassed as people are not allowed in that part of the forest. We immediately informed the police and they began the investigation,” Director Santosh Kumar added.

He said that Sundar had displayed aggressive behaviour and was confined to the enclosure. “There was no chance of Sundar getting out of the enclosed area,” he said.

A case of unnatural death has been filed at the Bannerghatta Police Station. However, police said that the initial suspicion is that Abhilash had gone to click a selfie with the elephant and was crushed to death.

“More information can be revealed only after further investigation. The post-mortem report is expected by Saturday,” SI Murali added.

Representatives of PETA India, in a statement, said that they did not think Sundar was behaving aggressively.

“Sundar was in a good condition. One cannot conclusively say before investigation that the elephant caused the man’s death. Only a thorough investigation can establish that. In all these years, there has not been a report of Sundar attacking humans. Even if Sundar caused the death, animals tend to do this out of self-defence or when they feel threatened,” Manilal Valliyate, CEO of PETA India, said in a press statement.

“It's possible that Sunder ‒ a gentle elephant who had been abused and cruelly treated since childhood ‒ could have been threatened or harmed by the men who exhibited erratic, drunken behaviour and were not respecting his space and territory. Elephants – whether in the wild on in captivity – do react to protect themselves if threatened. In this case, no matter what transpired, the drunks are entirely responsible for whatever caused the man's death. Moreover, an intelligent, herbivorous animal such as an elephant never reacts without provocation. Homicide may have occurred, in which case the police must investigate the suspicious behaviour of the men and take their cues from the post-mortem report.

In the past, young Sunder never harmed anyone and has not displayed any abnormal behaviour towards human beings, including his caretakers. As they and our expert elephant veterinarian who visited him recently confirmed, he is not in musth and is showing all signs of good mental and physical health,” the statement reads.

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