Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Forest Department on Friday arrested one person in the killing of a pregnant elephant in Palakkad that has bleeded millions of hearts across the country.
The probe team are also checking if the killing last month was the work of illicit liquor brewers who do their job in the forests.
"KFD has zeroed in on the culprits and recorded the first arrest in the wild elephant death case," said the department in its official twitter handle. The Kerala Police and the KFD are conducting a joint probe into this unfortunate episode.
Speaking to IANS, Samuel Pachuau, the Wildlife Warden of the Silent Valley National Park, the original habitat of this pregnant elephant said the arrest has been made.
"More arrests are expected and the joint probe is going on very well. We are not ruling out anything and we are not just looking into the pineapple theory alone. We will respond at the appropriate time," said Pachuau.
According to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan till Thursday three people were taken into custody.
The probe team is also looking into other aspects like the involvement of a team of illicit liquor brewers in the forests.
During the lockdown period, for over two months all liquor and toddy shops was closed and numerous cases were registered against people for illicit liquor brewing in the state.
Veteran elephant veterinarian Jacob Cheeran told IANS that the wash associated with illicit distilling is one of the all time favourite of all elephants.
"Elephants have a very powerful sense of smell, though their eyes are not that powerful. These animals love the wash and they are able to sense the smell in the air if there is any illicit distilling in the area.
"If they get it, then they go to that area. So many instances of elephants attacking the illicit distilling areas has taken place. They drink the wash as its flavour has a mixture of sweet and sour. The elephants also do get high after drinking this and run amok," said Cheeran.
The probe team is looking into this aspect also as the forest areas are a den for those involved in illicit distilling and wild elephants are their biggest enemy, as it comes and drinks the wash and chases away those doing this.
The Manarakadu police station on Wednesday registered a case in the gruesome incident.
According to veterinarians who carried out the autopsy of the dead 15-year-old pregnant elephant, she was fed a pineapple with firecrackers that burst inside her, leaving her in pain for days. She took refuge in a river until her death. The explosion inside her mouth had seriously injuring her upper and lower jaw and tongue. They surmise her killers must have first tried chasing her away as she stray into the agricultural land and forest area and then fed her the live explosives.
The injured elephant, according to forest officials, was first spotted by locals near a water source on May 23. Two days later an elephant expert after a medical assessment said things were bad for the animal.
On May 25, the elephant was found dead in slushy water.
A post-mortem conducted on the elephant two days later revealed that the elephant was two-month pregnant. Experts pointed out that this was the elephant's first pregnancy.
Meanwhile, an animal lover from Hyderabad has announced a reward of Rs two lakh to anyone providing information to the Kerala police leading to the arrest of the killers of a pregnant elephant in that state.
B. T. Srinivasan, a farmer, said he was shocked over the incident in which the elephant was reportedly fed a pineapple stuffed with crackers, resulting in the death of the pregnant elephant and the baby in its womb.
"I want to offer a reward of two lakh rupees from my personal savings to the person who gives information about the miscreants," said Srinivasan, who cultivates paddy in Medak district.
He said the persons who resorted to the beastly act should not go unpunished.
Srinivasan, who is also the general secretary of United Federation of Resident Welfare Associations, Greater Hyderabad, said the person providing information leading to the arrest of the culprits would get the reward after the conviction in the case.