A sub-adult female elephant was found dead in the Sirumugai forest range of Coimbatore district on Thursday. This is the second elephant death occurred in the range in three days .
Forest Department officials said a forest patrol found the carcass in an area, named Moolaiyur, in the Pethikuttai reserve forest in the evening.
On Friday morning, Forest Veterinary Officer A. Sukumar and assistant veterinary surgeon C. Thiyagarajan started an autopsy in the presence of T.K. Ashok Kumar, District Forest Officer of Coimbatore Forest Division, other forest officials and NGO representatives.
The carcass of a female adult elephant was found partially submerged in the storage area of the Bhavani Sagar reservoir at Mayilmokkai, which also falls under the Pethikuttai reserve forest, on the evening of March 28. Mayilmokkai and Moolaiyur are only around two kilometres apart, the officials said.
The cause of death of the female elephant, aged around 10, is suspected to be hepatitis and the liver was found damaged in a manner similar to that of the elephant that died at Mayilmokkai, Mr. Sukumar noted. “We need to do some research to ascertain the reason for the two deaths,” he said.
Samples from liver and kidneys were collected to check the presence of toxins through histopathological examinations. As the sub-adult elephant likely died around a week ago, its carcass had decayed and was buried after the autopsy, he said.
This is the fourth elephant death reported in March in the Coimbatore Forest Division. A male elephant was found dead on March 17 in a reserve forest area near Thadagam in the Coimbatore forest range and a female elephant, which was roaming within the Boluvampatti forest range with a jaw broken and tongue severed by a country bomb placed by poachers, died on March 24. Apart from these deaths, the skeletal remains of a female elephant, which is suspected to have died last year, were found at Boluvampatti on March 15.
Mr. Ashok Kumar told The Hindu that the Forest Department would deploy special teams and drones to intensify surveillance in the Sirumugai forest range following the death of the two elephants.
Within the first three months of this year, 10 elephants have died in the forests of Coimbatore district that comprises the Coimbatore Forest Division and the Anamalai Tiger Reserve (Pollachi Division).