Fatal end to man’s selfie attempt with elephant Sundar

A man was crushed to death after he entered an enclosure, allegedly to take a selfie with Sundar — an elephant that rose to fame after a lengthy court case and global outrage saw its release from captivity, at the Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) in the city on Tuesday.

According to the police, Abhilash, 27, a sales representative who lived in Hanumanthnagar, and a few friends had gone to the forest area behind the biological park, which was closed on the day.

The group allegedly had a few drinks and trespassed into the forest from the side of a Hakki-Pikki colony. They entered an area where elephants in training were kept. According to forest officials, around 20 elephants — rescued or captured from the wild and being trained at the elephant care centre — are allowed to graze in the forest patch attached to the centre.

Sixteen-year-old Sundar, however, was kept in an enclosure built specifically for it as it was in musth (a periodic condition when elephants display highly aggressive behaviour), said Santosh Kumar, executive director of BBP. “It had been displaying aggressive behaviour, and for the past three days was in musth. We could not have it in the forest and thus confined it to the enclosure,” he said. And as Tuesday was a holiday, the BBP staff had gone home by afternoon.

However, the police said, Mr. Abhilash wanted to take a selfie with the elephant and even entered the kraal. His body was found later in the evening, after his friends had allegedly fled the scene.

Representatives of PETA India, however, said they did no think Sundar was in musth. “Sundar was in good condition. One cannot conclusively say before investigation that the elephant caused the man’s death. Only a thorough investigation can establish that. In all these years, there has not been a report of Sundar attacking humans. Even if Sundar caused the death, animals tend to do this out of self-defence or when they feel threatened,” said Manilal Valliyate of PETA India….

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