“The post mortem report says there was an explosion in the mouth. We haven’t caught any of the culprits. We still don’t know what caused the explosion,” said Ali, adding that the animal was found pregnant with a month.
Kerala’s chief wildlife keeper, Surendra Kumar, said the case is under investigation.
He said local villagers sometimes leave pineapples and other sweet fruit full of firecrackers around their fields to ward off wild boars, which could have caused the elephant’s mouth to explode.
“(The explosion) fractured the bones and caused a lot of damage to the mouth. The animal was unable to eat and became weak. And then he died,” he said.
The elephant was found injured on May 23, but left when forest agents and a vet tried to immobilize her for treatment, according to Ali.
It was found two days later, standing in the river. “In order to heal, it needs to be immobilized but we have not been able to use a tranquilizer while it is in the water because the animal can drown,” said Ali.
Two more elephants were brought out of the water to lead the injured animal, but she refused to move and remained there until her death, added Ali.
The elephant’s death sparked outrage at the national level. Indian environment minister Prakash Javadekar said Thursday that the central government had taken “a very serious note” of the accident.