Three wild elephants, including one which is 20 months pregnant, were found dead in the last three days in the northern districts of Chhattisgarh. While the cause of death of the third elephant, whose carcass was found on Thursday, is yet to be ascertained, senior forest officials suspect foul play.
On Tuesday, the forest officials in Surajpur district found the body of a pregnant elephant which was near full term. “Her postmortem report clarified that she had cysts on her liver which was infected,” said a senior officer. On Wednesday, the carcass of another female elephant was found at a distance of 300 metres from the first one, in Pratappur range, but the forest officials couldn’t retrieve it till Thursday morning as the herd had been guarding the body for hours.
“By 5:00 am, the herd started to thin out and we retrieved the body. Postmortem is going on, but the cause of death is not natural, as the animal was healthy. Prima facie, it looks to be a case of poisoning,” APCCF Arun Pandey said.
A third carcass was found in Gopalpur area in Balrampur district. “We can’t say anything about the third animal, or its cause of death, but we are tracking if it was part of the same herd,” Pandey said.
Samples of the water body in Surajpur, where the herd was spotted, have been taken for testing, officials said.
The deaths come days after a pregnant elephant in Kerala died after ingesting firecrackers allegedly put inside fruits.
In the past few years, several incidents of human-elephant conflict have been reported from the forests of northern Chhattisgarh, comprising Surguja, Korba, Balrampur, Surajpur, Raigarh, Jashpur, Korba and Koriya districts.