September 28, 2020

Campaign site flooded with petitions over death of elephant who ate pineapple filled with firecrackers

June 04, 2020

Nearly two million people have signed petitions calling for action over the death of a pregnant elephant who reportedly ate a pineapple filled with firecrackers in India.

Campaign site says more than 1,200 petitions sprang up in less than a day expressing outrage over the elephant's death in the southern state of Kerala.

The incident has captured attention around the world, with people from the US, UK, France and Australia starting petitions on the issue.

The elephant had ventured into a village near Kerala's Silent Valley Forest in search of food.

It is not known when or where she became injured, but she was found standing in the Velliyar River by forest officers on 27 May.

Despite efforts to help her, she died while still standing in the water.

A spokesperson from Kerala Forest Department previously told Sky News that farmers place food filled with the explosive devices on the edges of their fields to keep wild boars away.

He said the elephant had been "unfortunate" and "unlucky".

An investigation has been launched and "several suspects" are being questioned over the incident.

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In a tweet on Thursday, the department said it will "leave no stone unturned to ensure max punishment to the offenders".

It also clarified the incident had taken place in Palakkad district, not in Malappuram district as had been reported by some media.

One petition, started by a campaigner in Oman, called for there to be longer prison sentences for wildlife crime.

Another petition by Meera Kant demanded that criminal charges be brought against those responsible, and it has been signed by more than 371,965 people.

Nida Hasan, country director of in India, said surges in petitions happen when there are issues that "shock people and tug at their collective conscience".

Wildlife charity World Animal Protection said it had written to India's environment minister, Prakash Javadekar, and the chief minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, to call for action.

Katheryn Wise, wildlife campaign manager, said: "This incredibly cruel act is heart breaking and incomprehensible, causing suffering and a painful death to this pregnant elephant.

"We must urgently change the way we view animals - elephants are sentient beings with strong social bonds who have been shown to grieve the loss of family members."

But others have urged caution, saying the explosives would not have intentionally been fed to the elephant.

Indian film star and TV host Adil Ibrahim posted a video to Instagram, where he said it was "unfortunate" the news was being used to "tarnish the image of Kerala".

"Let's be patient to know about the truth. #MyKeralaIsNotThatCruel," he said. "I feel so bad for the poor mother elephant and her unborn baby, it would be unfortunate if any animal had to go through having food with a cracker inside.

"We should try to implement better ways for farmers to protect their crops from animal attack than these inhumane pineapple tactics maybe.

"But blaming my state and people for this and twisting the news? No... not acceptable."

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