Back on the 27th of May, Indian wildlife officers reported that a pregnant elephant had died after biting a booby trapped pineapple filled with firecrackers. After the elephant took a bite, the improvised explosive exploded in her mouth, severely damaging her jaw, and even though the locals tried to save the elephant, it didn’t survive. In an interview with Sky News, a spokesperson for the Kerala Forest Department said that local farmers are known for booby trapping food in order to keep animals away from the fields.
Forest officer Mohan Krishnan shared this heartbreaking story on Facebook and said the elephant was know for trusting people. “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,” wrote the man.
According to the officials, the elephant most likely wandered out of the Silent Valley National Park (SVNP) while searching for food. The animal had wandered all the way to the Malappuram District where it found the booby trapped fruit.
Image credits: Mohan Krishnan
Maneka Gandhi, an animal rights activist, said that Malapurram is well-known for such violent incidents. “For instance, they throw poison on roads so that 300-400 birds and dogs die at one time,” said the woman. She also added that an elephant is killed every 3 days in Kerala.
Mr. Krishnan said that even though the elephant was badly injured and ran in pain through the village streets, she didn’t crush a single home. She eventually got to the Velliyar River where she stood with her head partially underwater. Two captive elephants tried to lead her out of the river but the elephant didn’t move, eventually succumbing to her wounds in the water. Officials the took her body back to the forest and cremated her.
The officers are currently looking for the culprit and two organizations have announced monetary rewards for those who could provide information leading to their arrest.
After hearing this heartbreaking story, artist from all over the world started paying their respects by creating tribute art – see their contributions in the gallery below.