The pregnant elephant that died in Kerala’s Palakkad city last month had major wounds in its oral cavity, which most likely occurred after an explosive went off in the mouth, PTI reported, citing the autopsy report. It added that the elephant was unable to eat for nearly two weeks before her death.

“The major and incapacitating wounds and injuries in oral cavity caused localised sepsis and have most likely occurred following an explosive blast in the mouth,” the report said. “This has resulted in excruciating pain and distress in the region and prevented the animal from taking food and water for nearly two weeks. Severe debility and weakness in turn resulted in the final collapse in water that led to drowning.”

Meanwhile, the immediate cause of death of the elephant in the report is stated to be inhalation of water leading to respiratory failure. “No bullet, snare or any other metallic or foreign object found in any part of the carcass,” it added.

The elephant, estimated to be a 15-year-old, died in the Velliyar stream in Palakkad on May 27. The wound was presumably caused by some explosives put in a fruit that the elephant ate, which was set as a trap by local farmers against wild animals. The incident has sparked outrage across the country.

Villagers in Kerala often use firecrackers or explosives stuffed in food to protect their fields from wild animals. The practice had been widely criticised.

However, forest officer Aashique Ali U told NDTV that the specifics of the animal’s death was not clear after the postmortem. “We right now don’t know what were the crackers mixed with,” he said. “Locally crackers in this area are mixed with fruits or animal fat. But we haven’t been able to find anything conclusively.”

The autopsy noted a distinct fracture and erosions of the major portions of maxillary bones at the jaw and medial portions on both sides were also noticed.

On Friday, the police in Kerala made the first arrest in connection with the death of the elephant. The arrested person has been identified as P Wilson, an employee at an estate cultivating cash crops and spices. Another person has been detained in the case. The two men told interrogators that they had placed fruits filled with firecrackers to scare wild boars, who often damaged farms.

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