A pregnant Indian elephant died after eating food that was filled with firecrackers in India’s Kerala state. A video of the injured animal went viral, sparking outrage across India.
The man suspected of the heinous act has been arrested, but not identified.
The wild elephant, thought to be 15 years old, died in a river in Silent Valley National Park in Kerala’s Palakkad district last week.
“One person was arrested today. There are more accused in the case and efforts are on to nab them,” Kerala Forest Minister K Raju told reporters, according to the Times of India.
Earlier the Forest Ministry announced a “major breakthrough” in the case on said on Twitter.
Kerala’s chief wildlife warden Surendrakumar said that a preliminary post mortem report showed that the elephant suffered severe injuries in its mouth and was not able to eat for days.
The elephant became weak from not eating, eventually collapsing and drowning in the river.
Mohan Krishnan, a forestry officer, posted an emotional apology on social media. “With her mouth and tongue destroyed in the explosion, she paced around hungry without being able to eat. She must have been more worried about the health of the child inside her than about her own hunger,” said Krishnan.
“There is no evidence yet that someone deliberately gave a firecracker-laden pineapple to the elephant, but we are investigating,” Kerala’s wildlife warden Surendrakumar said.
Villagers in India, Sri Lanka and other areas of South Asia frequently use pineapples filled with explosives to protect their homes and fields from wild animals.
Maneka Gandhi, a member of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), alleged that the elephant had been killed in Malappuram district, which has a 70% Muslim population, despite it being over 50 miles west from River Velliyar in Palakkad where she actually died.
“It’s murder,” said Gandhi, who is a prominent animal rights activist. “Malappuram is famous for such incidents, it’s India’s most violent district. For instance, they throw poison on roads so that 300-400 birds and dogs die at one time.”