Kerala elephant death: Police make first arrest; no evidence locals 'fed' pachyderm pineapple stuffed with firecrackers, claim officials

A man has been arrested for his alleged involvement in the death of a pregnant Kerala elephant, according to several media reports.

FP Staff June 05, 2020 13:04:38 IST
Kerala elephant death: Police make first arrest; no evidence locals 'fed' pachyderm pineapple stuffed with firecrackers, claim officials

A man has been arrested for his alleged involvement in the death of a pregnant Kerala elephant, according to several media reports.

The man, who is in his 40s, allegedly handled explosives and also assisted others, Chief Wildlife Warden Surendrakumar told NDTV.

The police are looking for more suspects. "The arrested man is a rubber tapper. A search is on for others," Palakkad district police chief G Siva Vikram as per the NDTV report.

The Quint reported that the man is a local named Wilson who lives near the forest.

This, after top forest officials said there is no evidence that locals fed the elephant pineapple stuffed with firecrackers, as was widely reported in the media on Thursday.

Mannarkkad district forest officer K Sunil Kumar told The Quint that there is no confirmation that the animal consumed a pineapple filled with firecrackers, as was reported by the media. He added that locals could not have fed a fruit stuffed with live firecrackers to a wild elephant inside the forest as that would be "very dangerous".

“The animal had sustained injuries because of explosives in its mouth. This was an act done by some people living in the forest fringes to keep the animals away from his or her cultivated land. But this was not done intentionally to kill a pregnant elephant,” he told The Quint.

Kerala elephant death Police make first arrest no evidence locals fed pachyderm pineapple stuffed with firecrackers claim officials

The pregnant elephant that died in Kerala. Image Courtesy: Facebook/mohan.krishnan1426

Surendra Kumar also told The Quint, “There was an explosion in the mouth of the elephant but whether it was due to a pineapple stuffed with firecrackers is still not clear. We don’t have any concrete evidence to confirm this.”

News of the incident, which occurred on 27 May, set off an outpouring of emotion on social media with celebrities, sportspersons and Twitterati expressing grief. Officials said the elephant was standing in water and that it died standing in river Velliyar after it suffered an injury in its lower jaw.

A forest official, speaking to The International Business Times, on condition of anonymity, said pineapples filled with firecrackers are sometimes used as a snare for catching wild boars. He said, "No one would have fed the pineapple to the elephant. The animal must have found it lying somewhere and must have consumed it herself not knowing what lies ahead for her [sic]."

Speaking to International Business Timeslocal officials not wanting to be named said, "Every farming community near forest range uses such techniques as crackers, board bombs and bear traps to get rid of the wildlings attacking their crops. [sic.]". The official further confirmed that the fruit was not "deliberately fed" to the animal.

Some outlets also erroneously reported that the incident occurred in Malappuram district. The Velliyar river flows through Palakkad.

BJP MP and former Union minister Maneka Gandhi was accused by some of giving the incident a "communal colour" after she tweeted that Malappuram — the only Muslim-majority district in Kerala — was known for "its intense criminal activity" specially "with regard to animals".

The Congress claimed that saffron party leaders were "deliberately spreading false information".

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had alleged that some people, including Union ministers, were using the incident to tarnish the image of the state.

With inputs from PTI

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