An elephant that was pregnant died in Kerala, standing in water, last Wednesday, after she faced one of the most brutal forms of animal abuse. She ate a pineapple filled with firecracker, offered to her allegedly by some locals. The fruit exploded in her mouth, leading to the inevitable tragedy.
The incident came to light after a forest officer in northern Kerala’s Malappuram district narrated the details of the horrific death on social media.
The wild elephant had left the forest, meandering into a nearby village in search of food. As she walked on the streets, she was offered the cracker-laden pineapple by locals.
“She trusted everyone. When the pineapple she ate exploded, she must have been shocked not thinking about herself, but about the child she was going to give birth to in 18 to 20 months,” forest officer Mohan Krishnan, who was part of the Rapid Response Team to rescue the elephant, wrote on Facebook.
So powerful was the cracker explosion in her mouth that her tongue and mouth were badly injured. The elephant walked around in the village, in searing pain and in hunger. She was unable to eat anything because of her injuries.
“She didn’t harm a single human being even when she ran in searing pain in the streets of the village. She didn’t crush a single home. This is why I said, she is full of goodness,” Mr Krishnan wrote in an emotional note in Malayalam, along with photos of the elephant.
The elephant eventually walked up to the Velliyar River and stood there. Photos showed the elephant standing in the river with her mouth and truck in water, perhaps for some relief from the unbearable pain. The forest officer said she must have done this to avoid flies and other insects on her injuries.
The forest officials brought two captive elephants, who were called Surendran and Neelakanthan, to lead her out of the river. “But I think she had a sixth sense. She didn’t let us do anything,” Mohan Krishnan wrote.
After hours of attempts by the officials to rescue the elephant, she died at 4 pm on May 27, standing in water.
The elephant was taken back inside the forest in a truck, where the forest officials cremated her.
“She needs to be given the farewell she deserves. For that, we took inside the forest in a lorry. She lay there on firewood, in the land she played and grew up. The doctor who did her post-mortem told me that she was not alone. I could sense his sadness though the expression on his face was not visible due to his mask. We cremated her in a pyre there. We bowed before her and paid our last respects,” the forest officer said.