Bomb that went off in jumbo's mouth may have killed it: Vet

Mystery shrouds the death of a 15-year-old female elephant on December 30, 2013, while being driven away by the Forest department staff after a herd strayed into the human habitats of Nugu and surrounding villages in H D Kote taluk in Mysore district.

Preliminary post mortem reports have found that the elephant had suffered a severe injury in the mouth cavity, had wounds on the lips with puss formation and was infested with maggots.

According to Dr Nagaraj, the wildlife veterinarian who conducted the post mortem, the injury could be due to a blast caused by a country-made bomb.

“Some villagers, in their attempt to hunt wild boars, use low-intensity grenades and cover them with meat which lures the animals to swallow them. These bombs explode inside the mouth of the animals, causing injuries to them. We are suspecting that a similar explosive was kept inside a ragi ball which the elephant may have accidentally swallowed,” he said.

Nagaraj said the injury due to the blast may have occurred a month ago, leading to sufferings for the elephant. During the post mortem, undigested food was found which indicates that the injuries had resulted in infections. Due to the injuries, the animal also had trouble eating, which made it starve and lose immunity. The elephant also had gunshot wounds on its body. Visceral samples of the elephant have been collected for sending them to the Forensic Science Laboratory in Bangalore, he said.

According to H C Kantaraju, Conservator of Forests, Bandipur, this was a case where the elephant was injured by a country-made bomb. Ideally, it should not be used even for wild boars, but there have been such incidents.

“We are conducting programmes under the eco-development committee, educating villagers not to hunt down wild animals and not to light fire inside the forest. A case has been booked,” he said.

A forest official said that since the animal died under mysterious circumstances, a complaint had been lodged at the Saragur police station. In September 2007, a couple of elephants had died after swallowing explosives hidden in ragi balls in areas around the Bandipur National Park and at different locations on the Karnataka-Kerala forest reserve areas.

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