Malappuram, India—Animal charity Humane Society International/India is offering a reward of up to 50,000 IN rupees in Malappuram district of Kerala, for information leading to the positive identification, arrest and conviction of those responsible for the killing of a pregnant elephant who ate a fire cracker believed to have been stuffed in a pineapple or other food item. She suffered catastrophic facial injuries and a slow, painful death.
Police reports show that the incident is believed to have occurred on 27 May when the elephant ate a firecracker-filled pineapple that was originally intended as a snare to catch wild boar. When the firecracker exploded in her mouth, the elephant is reported to have stood for a significant time in the Velliyar River with her trunk in the water, presumably for pain relief.
Following the incident, the Rapid Response Team of the Kerala Forest Department rushed to the scene to attempt a rescue but the elephant succumbed to her injuries. A post mortem revealed that the cause of death was asphyxia as a result of water entering her lungs and trachea.
Sumanth Bindumadhav, wildlife campaign manager for HSI/India said “Regrettably in India, human conflict with wild animals such as wild boars and elephants is a common problem, and often these animals can be maimed or killed by local communities experiencing crop damage and other issues. We don’t yet know if the firecracker-pineapple was maliciously fed to the elephant, or if it was a tragic accident, but whether the intended victim was a boar or an elephant, tragic incidents like this demonstrate the urgent need for better and humane ways to manage wildlife. Community education coupled with the introduction of crop insurance schemes would also safeguard the interests of people as well as the welfare of animals. We hope that by offering a reward for information, those responsible can be apprehended and a strong message will be sent out that treating wildlife in this way is unacceptable.”
Human-wildlife conflict is an unfortunate consequence of increasing fragmentation of wildlife habitats and a growing intolerance to living alongside wild animals in several parts of India. However, sustainable conflict preparedness and management planning methods need to be employed by the forest departments of all states, without which, some citizens choose to take matters into their own hands leading to animal cruelty.
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