The death of a pregnant elephant in Kerala after it ate a pineapple full of explosives will be probed by the government, India's Environment and Forest Minister Prakash Javadekar tweeted today.
The incident sparked national and international outrage in India and beyond, with social media erupting in a storm of anger, sadness and disbelief.
"Central Government has taken a very serious note of the killing of an elephant in Mallapuram, #Kerala. We will not leave any stone unturned to investigate properly and nab the culprit(s). This is not an Indian culture to feed fire crackers and kill," the minister said in his tweet.
The wild elephant strayed into a village near Silent Valley National Park in Palakkad district of India last Wednesday, when it ate a pineapple filled with firecrackers. The fruit exploded in the elephant's mouth -- in that state, the elephant walked for days in pain before it went into a river and died on May 27.
Visuals shared on social media showed the elephant standing in the river with her mouth and trunk in water, perhaps to gather some sort of relief from the flowing water.
A similar incident had taken place last month when a female elephant was found with serious mouth injures in a forest in nearby Kollam district, Kerala forest officials said. Its jaw was broken and it too died of its injuries. Officials are investigating whether this elephant had also eaten fruit packed with explosives.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said yesterday that he has already ordered an investigation into the death of the pregnant elephant and strict action would be taken against those responsible for the incident.
A team of investigators has reached the place where the May 27 incident took place.
The incident had come to light after a forest officer of the Silent Valley forest posted the photo of the elephant on social media.
Forest officials said it is a common practice among farmers in Kerala to keep fruits filled with explosives to prevent wild boars from damaging their crops and straying into human habitat.