The police and forest departments will jointly investigate the incident. We will do everything possible to bring the culprits to justice,” Pinarayi Vijayan said.

June 4:

Three suspects have been identified in investigations into the killing of a pregnant elephant that ate an explosives-filled pineapple, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said today. “Justice will prevail,” Mr Vijayan said in tweets amid huge anger and grief after tragic visuals of the elephant, dead in a river, emerged in a forest officer’s post earlier this week.

“In a tragic incident in Palakkad district, a pregnant elephant has lost its life. Many of you have reached out to us. We want to assure you that your concerns will not go in vain,” said the chief minister.

“An investigation is underway, focusing on three suspects. The police and forest departments will jointly investigate the incident. The district police chief and the district forest officer visited the site today. We will do everything possible to bring the culprits to justice.”

Earlier today, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar had also tweeted that the central government would investigate the tragedy.

The government has taken “very serious note” of the elephant’s killing, said Mr Javadekar, Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, in a post. “We will not leave any stone unturned to investigate properly and nab the culprit(s). This is not an Indian culture to feed fire crackers and kill,” the minister tweeted.

Though Mr Javadekar’s tweet said the incident took place in Malappuram district of Kerala, the elephant died in the neighbouring Palakkad.

The wild elephant strayed into a village near Silent Valley National Park in Palakkad last Wednesday and ate a pineapple filled with firecrackers. It exploded in its mouth and in that state the elephant walked for days in pain before it went into a river and died standing on May 27.

Villagers in the region often use firecracker or explosive-filled fruit to protect their fields from wild animals, but the practice has been widely condemned as cruel and disturbing.

Photos shared on social media showed the elephant standing in the river with her mouth and trunk in water, perhaps for some relief from pain. Officials guessed from its shrunken form that the animal may have eaten the fruit 20 days ago and had starved since.



“We are investigating the nature of the explosive and as well as the food fed to her,” Kerala’s chief wildlife warden, Surendra Kumar, told AFP.

“We are investigating to find the people and circumstances that led to her death,” he added.

Officials are also investigating whether another elephant that died last month and was found with serious mouth injuries including a broken jaw had also eaten fruit packed with explosives.

There has been massive outrage on social media since Mohan Krishnan, a forest officer posted in Malappuram, wrote an emotional note on his Facebook page. “When we saw her she was standing in the river, with her head dipped in the water. She had a sixth sense that she was going to die. She took the Jalasamadhi in the river in a standing position,” wrote Mr Krishnan, who had been tasked with rescuing the elephant.

“She didn’t harm a single human being even when she ran in searing pain in the streets of the village,” he wrote.