Days after the death of a pregnant elephant in the buffer zone of Silent Valley National Park in Kerala’s Palakkad district caused outrage across the country, Kerala officials on Friday identified three people — a rubber farmer, his son and their tapper — as the accused.
Forest department officials arrested the tapper, Wilson (35) a native of Edavanna in Malappuram, on Friday. Local sources at Ambalappara — Where the elephant was spotted before its death — said Wilson used to camp at the estate in a temporary shed with his wife and a minor son.
The other two alleged accused are rubber plantation owner Abdul Kareem and his son Riyasudheen, who hail from Alanalloor in Palakkad. They are yet to be arrested.
Kareem is the first accused, his son the second and Wilson is the third accused in the case.
Mannarkkad forest range officer Ashique Ali U, who is probing the case, said the accused wanted to trap wild boar using an explosive-loaded coconut, but it was accidentally bitten by the elephant on May 12, grievously injuring the animal’s upper and lower jaws. The pachyderm died 15 days later.
The officer said after the elephant bit the explosive-laden coconut, it moved to Kareem’s rubber plantation with a bleeding mouth. “They (the accused) scared the elephant away by beating drums. It returned to the forest, but came back on May 23, when it was noticed by locals, who alerted forest officials. The elephant withdrew to the forest when officials tried to give it medication, Ashique said.
The officer said that the elephant was spotted once again on May 25, when it was standing in the river with its trunk submerged. It died two days later.
The officer said, “They (the accused) have a habit of hunting wild boars and used to sell its meat… Kareem’s 15 acres of rubber plantation is close to the forest. To trap wild boar, they had packed potassium-nitrate in a ball shape within a coconut… However, the coconut was accidentally bitten by the elephant… They had placed the trap within the forest region, not on their farm land.”
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