An eight-year-old elephant which died under mysterious circumstances not far from here may have been poisoned, officials say.
The animal died Tuesday in Huntar village, 45 km from Ranchi. Forest officials are awaiting an autopsy to ascertain the cause of death. But they suspect it was poisoned.
"We are not sure but we strongly believe the elephant was poisoned to death by villagers. Elephants have caused havoc and villagers might have used poison to drive away the tuskers," said an official Wednesday.
The elephant, part of a herd of 18 elephants, started behaving abnormally and died within a few hours, villagers said. They added that the cause of death could be the pesticides sprinkled on nearby crops.
"No external injury has been found on the elephant. Veterinary doctors will reveal the cause of death," said S.B. Gaikwad, a forest conservator.
In the last five years, 330 people have been trampled to death by elephants. Over 70 tuskers have died in the same period due to different reasons like electrocution and poaching.