Investigators narrow down 3 suspects in death of pregnant elephant in Kerala
07:10 PM, June 04, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 07:45 PM, June 04, 2020

Investigators narrow down 3 suspects in death of pregnant elephant in Kerala

Investigators have zeroed in on three suspects in connection with the death of a pregnant elephant that ate a pineapple stuffed with explosives in a forest in the Indian state of Kerala, reports our New Delhi correspondent quoting the state's Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

A joint team of police and forest crime investigators visited the spot where the elephant was found dead.

"Justice will prevail," Vijayan said in a series of tweets amid huge outrage over the incident that came to light following a forest officer's social media post earlier this week.

"In a tragic incident in Palakkad district, a pregnant elephant has lost its life. Many of you have reached out to us. We want to assure you that your concerns will not go in vain," said Vijayan.

The Chief Minister said "an investigation is underway, focusing on three suspects. The police and forest departments will jointly investigate the incident. The district police chief and the district forest officer visited the site today. We will do everything possible to bring the culprits to justice."

Kerala Forest Department claimed in a tweet that "significant headway has been made in the investigation into the recent gory death of a pregnant wild elephant."

The special investigation team set up for probing the death of the elephant questioned several suspects, it said.

The forest department said a case has been registered for the offence under the Wildlife Act for hunting the elephant.

The elephant had consumed a pineapple filled with powerful fire crackers which exploded in the animal's mouth in the Silent Valley Forest and it died about a week later on May 27.

Earlier today, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar had also tweeted that the central government would investigate the tragedy.

The government has taken "very serious note" of the elephant's killing, said Javadekar, minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, in a post.

"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 tweeted.

Kerala's veteran journalist N Muralidharan said his state "has added another tragic episode to its centuries old brutality towards elephants."

He said the explosive trap might have been intended for a boar or some other herbivore that forays into villages to ravish on crops.

"For a long time, elephants have been symbols of power and glory in Kerala. But the mighty mammal has also been a mute victim of economic exploitation. Parading caparisoned elephants during festivals has been the much-flaunted cultural symbol. Bizarre, this feudal practice has been kept up by elected governments, giving it an official status," Muralidharan said.

According to him, conservationists and animal rights campaigners have elaborately documented "the mind-boggling cruelty meted out to captive elephants in Kerala. Nevertheless, barring a few innocuous regulations, victimisation of elephants has continued unabated."

He pointed out that while international ban on ivory trade and effective guarding of forests have almost brought an end to poaching of wild elephants, but one was still at a loss to know as to why the government shies away from banning catching, taming and possession of elephants by individuals and institutions like temples. It is time to act rather than react."


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