The Kerala Forest Department has arrested one person involved in the death of the pregnant elephant in the state. The one-month pregnant elephant died in Palakkad on May 27, days after it injured its jaws due to some explosives.
Confirming the arrest, Palakkad Superintendent of Police G Siva Vikram told TNM that the man identified as P Wilson, works in a plantation in the district. He works as a rubber tapper at this plantation. The accused is one of the three persons who was taken into custody for questioning on Thursday. Thiruvazhamkunnu Forest Station, Deputy Range Officer, M Sasikumar also confirmed the arrest.
The SP said that two men — Kareem and Riyaz — who are suspected to be the owners of the estate, are absconding.
The Forest Department identified three people suspected to be involved in the case, but let off two persons after interrogation. Two FIRs have been registered in the case, first by the Forest Department and then by the police. Mannarkkad police in Palakkad registered the FIR (first information report) against unknown persons on June 3.
The police FIR was registered under section 9B (1)(b) [possesses, uses, sells or transports any explosive shall be punishable with imprisonment] of the Explosive Act, 1884. The case is also registered under section 11(1) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, which lists various offences, including sub-section (1) (a) “beats, kicks, over-rides, over-drives, over-loads, tortures or otherwise treats any animal so as to subject it to unnecessary pain or suffering or causes or, being the owner permits, any animals to be so treated”.
The FIR, which was registered based on the complaint of a forest range official in Mannarkkad, said, “An elephant in a weak condition happened to die after somebody has unlawfully used an explosive. It sustained the injury while trying to eat some food.”
In May 27, the elephant was standing in the Velliyar river and died around 4 pm. Its immediate cause of death was drowning and lung failure. However, it was declared as unnatural death after it was found that the pachyderm’s jaws had been mangled due to some explosives. As per the post mortem report, the elephant was unable to eat or drink water for two weeks before her death.
Such snares, fruits stuffed with explosives, are commonly used as bait for wild boars either to kill them for meat or to stop them from destroying vegetation. This is, however, illegal.
Officials told TNM that the incident occurred between May 13 and May 20. The elephant was widely assumed to be found in Malappuram district, but it was found at Kottopadam panchayat in Palakkad. She was standing in the Velliyar river, where she was found by some residents in the village. This river originates from Palakkad and flows to Malappuram.
The death of the elephant triggered massive outrage, following which the Kerala police formed a special investigation team (SIT) to probe into the death in the Palakkad forest range.
The probe is being led by the G Siva Vikram, the Superintendent of Police Palakkad, and co-ordinated by DySP Mannarkad along with officials from the forest department.