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Kerala: Elephant dies of injuries, officials say may have eaten cracker-laden fruit

A five-year-old elephant, which was found with a fractured jaw, died on Friday night at Attappadi in Palakkad, hardly a month after a pregnant pachyderm’s death had sparked widespread outrage.

The animal, which was unable to eat, was found weak a day ago by forest officials at Veetikkundu in Agali forest range and it died last night, forest officials said.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wild Life) and Chief Wildlife Warden Surendra Kumar said they suspect that the elephant could have bitten into a cracker filled coconut or some fruit.

“There are three possibilities that could have led to the animal’s death…There were injuries in the elephant’s mouth and it could be due to the animal consuming cracker filled coconut or some fruit.

It had a tumour in the stomach and was also suffering from pneumonia,” he told PTI.

The elephant is suspected to have strayed from the neighbouring Tamil Nadu forests as it had not been spotted earlier in any herds by forest officials so far, the official said.

The Tamil Nadu forests is hardly two to three km from the area where it was found, he said.

The animal’s post-mortem was conducted this morning.

Dr Arun Sakaria, Chief Forest Veterinary Officer, said “The animal had a fractured mandible, had a split tongue and was suffering from pneumonia. It also had a tumour in the abdomen. We have collected the samples and sent it for forensic tests. Samples have also been submitted for toxicology test.”

According to him, though there are no external injuries, they were not ruling out the possibility of the elephant consuming a cracker laden fruit which could have exploded in its mouth.

Forest officials said tribals in the area had informed them about the elephant.

On May 27, a 15-year-old pregnant wild elephant in the Silent valley forest had fallen victim to an act of human cruelty after she consumed a fruit-filled with crackers, which exploded in her mouth.

The elephant, which was in severe pain following the injuries suffered about a week ago, had taken refuge in the Killiyar river, as life ebbed out of her.

It was during post-mortem that it came to be known that she was pregnant.

The incident had come to light after a forest officer posted an emotional post.

To prevent wild animals, especially wild boars, from destroying their crops, locals put up such fruit traps filled with crackers.

Only one person has been arrested in the case relating to the death of the pregnant elephant.

Two accused in the case are still absconding.

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