In an intentional act of animal abuse, villagers took the life of a majestic wild elephant. The lone elephant had wandered close to a village in the Malappuram district of Kerala in southern India. It sustained severe injuries after eating a pineapple rigged with explosives. Forest officers failed to save the elephant.

On Wednesday, May 27, the wild elephant had ventured close to the village in search of food. There, the elephant picked up a pineapple to eat. It exploded in the elephant's mouth, leaving it in immense pain.

The strength of the explosion critically injured the elephant's mouth and tongue. Even though the animal was in an incredible amount of pain, it did not rampage through the village. It peacefully found its way to the Velliyar River nearby.

Forest officials reached the location after getting news of the incident. They found the elephant standing alone in the water. Mohan Krishnan, Section Forest Officer, Nilambur, Kerala was a part of the Rapid Response Team dispatched to save the animal.

According to New Indian Express, the forest officers understood the extent of the damage and wanted to euthanise the elephant. However, orders from the forest department were to rescue the animal and return it to the Silent Valley National Park (SVNP), Palakkad.

Officials tried to use two tame elephants, Surendran and Neelakantan, to coax the elephant to the shore. The elephant refused to leave the water and passed away standing in the river.

Forest officers removed the corpse of the elephant from the water. David Abraham, Assistant Forest Veterinary Officer, performed a post-mortem examination of the elephant. He discovered that the elephant was a 15-year-old pregnant female. Abraham stated that he had performed many post-mortems of wild elephants before but this experience was poignant for him when he saw the elephant foetus. Abraham pointed out that in another 22 months, the calf would have been birthed. The cause of death was determined as asphyxia where water had got into its lungs and trachea.

After the post-mortem examination, the elephant's body was cremated by the mourning forest officers.

Widespread outcry over the elephant's death saw Indian celebrities condemning the incident.

Initial reports claimed that the elephant was fed the pineapple by the villagers. However, it was later claimed that the pineapples are usually left in the fields by villagers to kill wild boars which damage the crops. According to Zee News, a manhunt has been launched to nab the people responsible for the elephant's death. Pinarayi Vijayan, the Cheif Minister of Kerala, assured that the villagers responsible would be punished.

Forest elephant killed by poachers for tusks, Dzanga-Ndoki National Park
An elephant died after eating a pineapple rigged with explosives in India. (representational image)