The pregnant elephant that died in the Palakkad district of Kerala last week had a severe traumatic injury that likely occurred after an explosion in the mouth, according to the post-mortem report. The injury prevented the elephant from consuming food and water for several days and caused severe weakness, the report added to which NDTV agreed. The immediate cause of death for the elephant in the report is claimed to be inhalation of water leading to respiratory failure.
The elephant was around 15 years old, however, due to possible starvation, the mammal’s size had been greatly reduced.
Initially, local wildlife officials suspected the possibility that fruits such as explosive-filled pineapple may have been consumed, Aashique Ali U, Mannarkkad forestry officer, told NDTV that the details of this are unclear at this time after autopsy.
“Right now we don’t know what the cookies were mixed with. The local cookies in this area are mixed with fruit or animal fat. But we couldn’t find anything conclusive,” Aashique said.
Wildlife officials have been able to identify an area where the elephant was seen once in mid-May.
A 10-member special police investigation team will attempt to track the movement of the elephant on Friday. Prime Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said three suspects were identified in investigations into the death of the elephant.
“We will try to map the movement of the elephant based on the sightings we can trace,” G Siva Vikram, police chief of the Palakkad district, told NDTV.
The senior police official also added that what they know is that the injury to the elephant’s mouth was caused by explosives. “Based on local usage, we are now considering them to be cookies. We will also try to find out what the source of these cookies is for locals,” added Vikram.
The wild elephant was lost in a town near Silent Valley National Park in Palakkad last month and is suspected to have eaten fruit or food stuffed with firecrackers. It exploded in the elephant’s mouth and walked for days in agony before going to the river and dying on foot on May 27.
Villagers in the region often use firecrackers or food-filled explosives to protect their fields from wild animals like the boar, and the horrible practice has been widely condemned.