In what seems like a case of retribution, an elephant captured by the forest department authorities in Sidhi district, Madhya Pradesh, was killed by poisoning while in captivity on Sunday. The case also exposes poor protection measures of the forest department staff in the state.
A dead cow and a dead dog were also found in the vicinity.
Sources in the forest department said that five elephants that had entered Madhya Pradesh from Chhattisgarh were captured between September 9 and 16. The elephants had been raiding crops, destroying homes and had killed one person after which they were captured.
After being captured in Sidhi district, the elephants were chained and kept in a forest near Chapondi village. It was decided that the elephants would be taken to Bandhavgarh National Park where they would be trained and used for patrolling.
The authorities later began transporting elephants on truck one at a time. On Saturday, the fourth elephant was taken to Bandhavgarh. However, when the truck scheduled to take the fifth elephant arrived at the camp, the Sidhi forest division found out that the elephant was dead.
The security of the elephants had been entrusted to forest department staff that were to stay at the elephant camp to protect them. A post-mortem was conducted on the dead elephant which confirmed death due to poisoning.
Sources in the forest department added that the villagers, who lost their crops, could be responsible for all this.
A cow and a dog were also found dead at the spot, suggesting that they too ate the poisoned food offered to the elephant.
The matter is being investigated and a case of poaching has been registered.