The pregnant elephant that died in Kerala's Palakkad district last week had a severe traumatic injury which most likely occurred following an explosion in the mouth, the post-mortem report states. The injury prevented the elephant from consuming food and water for several days and led to severe weakness, the report accessed by NDTV, adds. The immediate cause of death of the elephant in the report is stated to be inhalation of water leading to respiratory failure.
The elephant was around 15 years old, however, due to possible starvation, the size of the mammal had shrunk immensely.
Initially, local wildlife officials suspected the possibility of fruits like pineapple stuffed with explosives that could have been consumed, Forest Officer of Mannarkkad, Aashique Ali U has told NDTV that the specifics of this aren't clear at this point after the post-mortem.
"We right now don't know what were the crackers mixed with. Locally crackers in this area are mixed with fruits or animal fat. But we haven't been able to find anything conclusively", Mr Aashique said.
The wildlife officials have been able to identify an area where the elephant was seen once around mid of May.
A police Special Investigation Team, consisting of 10 members, will attempt to trace the movement of the elephant on Friday. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said three suspects have been identified in investigations into the death of the elephant.
"We will be attempting to map the movement of the elephant based on the sightings that we can track", G Siva Vikram, Palakkad District Police Chief told NDTV.
The senior police official also added that what they know is that the mouth injury to the elephant was caused due to explosives. "Based on the local usage, as of now we are considering it to be crackers. We also will be trying to find out what's the source of these crackers for the locals," Mr Vikram added.
The wild elephant strayed into a village near Silent Valley National Park in Palakkad last month and is suspected to have eaten fruit or food stuffed with firecrackers. It exploded in the elephant's mouth and it walked for days in agony before it went into a river and died standing on May 27.
Villagers in the region often use firecrackers or explosives stuffed in food to protect their fields from wild animals like boar and the horrific practice has been widely condemned.