Primary investigation into the death of the pregnant elephant in Kerala has found that it may have accidentally consumed a cracker-stuffed fruit, the environment ministry said on Monday.
The ministry also noted that many a time, locals resort to the illegal act of planting explosive-filled fruits to repel wild boars from entering plantation farms.
The 15-year-old elephant consumed a pineapple filled with powerful firecrackers which exploded in its mouth in the Silent Valley forest. It died in the Velliyar river a week later on May 27.
In a series of tweets, the ministry has said that one person has been arrested in the matter.
‘Primary investigations revealed that the elephant may have accidentally consumed such fruit. Ministry is in constant touch with Kerala Govt & has sent them detailed advisory for immediate arrest of culprits & stringent action against any erring official that led to elephant's death,’ the ministry tweeted.
‘As of now, one person has been arrested & efforts are on to nab more individuals who may have participated in this illegal & utterly inhuman act. The @WCCBHQ has also been directed to act on this matter with utmost sense of urgency. #WildlifeProtection,’ the ministry posted on its official Twitter handle.
It also tweeted that Minster of State for Environment Babul Supriyo has requested people not to believe in social media “rumours”.
‘In the meantime, MoS, MoEF&CC, Shri Babul Supriyo requests everyone to not indulge or fall prey to in any of the rumours & fake news that are being circulated in the #SocialMedia,’ the ministry tweeted.
The Kerala government and all departments concerned of the ministry are handling the matter in an unbiased manner, it said. ‘We are confident of concluding the investigation sooner than later, to be followed by exemplary #LegalActions & punishment that will act as strong deterrent to committing such future acts, it said.
The ministry on Sunday also held a meeting with several officials to discuss progress in the matter.
The review meeting was held under the chairmanship of Sanjay Kumar, director general of forests and special secretary in the ministry (DGF&SS) to discuss the action taken in the case.
Besides DGF&SS, the meeting was attended by an official from National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), inspector general of wildlife, ministry of environment, additional director of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and scientists from the Elephant Cell, an official told PTI.
However, details of the meeting are still awaited.