Forest officers in Kerala have arrested three people allegedly involved in the killing of a young female wild elephant in Kollam district in April, officials said on Wednesday (June 10).
“Three people have been arrested in connection with the killing of the elephant in Pathanapuram. There are five accused in the case. Two of them are still absconding. A search is on to trace the absconding culprits,” a forest officer in Kollam district said.
This comes amid a search which is underway to trace two people in connection with the death of a pregnant pachyderm in Palakkad a few days ago.
Both the elephants had met with a similar tragedy, sustaining severe wounds in their mouth after they allegedly chewed fruits stuffed with explosives. The animals were unable to eat for several days due to the injuries in their mouths.
While the female elephant in Kollam district had died in Pathanapuram forest range area under Punalur division, the pregnant wild elephant died on May 27 in Palakkad district.
The forest officer said those arrested have said that the elephant was not their target and it accidentally fell into the trap laid for wild boars and deer. “Their target was wild boar and deer and they filled a pineapple with explosives. When the elephant, attracted by its smell, bit into it, it exploded. The wounded elephant could not eat for several days and died in the fringe areas of the forests in Pathanapuram,” the official said.
Its jaw was broken and it was unable to eat.
Meanwhile, forest officials in Palakkad district said search is still on to nab the two prime accused in connection with the death of the pregnant elephant. One person was arrested in connection with the case on June 5.
A Special Investigation Team constituted by the state government is probing the death.
The incident had triggered nationwide outrage, with Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar and BJP MP and former union minister Maneka Gandhi, among many others, condemning it.
The death of the elephant in Palakkad also took a communal angle on social media, with political leaders and other netizens hitting out at the Communist Party-ruled state.
When the news broke initially, the location of this incident was reported as Kerala’s Malappuram district instead of Palakkad.
Following this, users of social media took to claim that Malappuram was the “only Muslim dominated district” in Kerala, triggering a religious dispute over the death of the elephant.
Here are a few more examples:
Meanwhile, Maneka Gandhi said on Twitter that Malappuram was the “most violent district” and that an elephant was killed every three days in the southern state, and was charged for her provocative claims.
(With inputs from agencies)