Suspect arrested in death of elephant in Kerala, India that ate explosive fruit

Sunday, June 7, 2020

On Friday, Indian officials in Kerala arrested a man in connection with the death of a pregnant female elephant suffering from explosive injuries. Authorities said they believed a fruit filled with firecrackers had exploded in her mouth, damaging her jaw and ultimately leading to her death.

According to wildlife officials, the 15-year-old elephant's injuries were discovered on May 25 after she was observed standing in the Velliyar River. Despite attempts by officials to lure her out using two other elephants, the injured elephant remained in the river and died two days later. An autopsy determined the elephant was pregnant before she was cremated. Citing the elephant's reduced body size, officials estimated she may have starved for up to 20 days or longer. The incident gained media attention after local wildlife officer Mohan Krishnan shared his experience on Facebook. Some people expressed their outrage on social media as the incident became known.

Officials later announced an arrest of a rubber tapper — a man in his forties identified only as "P Wilson" — in the elephant's death while as of yesterday two other suspects were reportedly at large. Initial reports stated the firecracker-laden fruit was a pineapple; NDTV later reported officials, following an investigation, stated it was a coconut. Forest officials suggested the elephant may have tried to eat a "pig cracker" meant to repel wild boars.