Wildlife experts in southern India are hunting a rogue bull elephant who is thought to have gored 12 female tuskers to death because they spurned his sexual advances. A 15-member taskforce has been set up to catch the aggressive male, called Alpha, who has been on the run in the jungles of Kerala state for the last three years.
Kerala's chief wildlife warden, K.K. Srivastava, said eight female elephants were found dead in the vast Periyar reserve between February and June last year. "Post-mortem reports and other evidence suggested that these were caused by the same tusker. Two more females were found dead on March 12 and 21 this year. The nature of injuries point to the same culprit," he said.
Two other deaths have been blamed on 25-year-old Alpha, he added, without specifying when the females were found. Alpha's behaviour has been blamed on "musth," a surge in the male reproductive hormone testosterone in bull elephants that leads to aggressive behaviour.
Forensic tests have shown that all the victims had puncture marks, indicating that they resisted a male who tried to force himself on them. The wounds matched the dimensions of Alpha's tusks. The former deputy director of the Periyar Tiger Reserve, P.P. Pramod, said Alpha needs to have his tusks trimmed but they had to catch and tranquilise him first, which was risky. If it fell flat on its chest it will die instantly. So we need to follow it and lift it as soon as he collapses," he said.