The incident happened in the buffer zone of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve almost a year ago.

The Forest Department has formed a special team to trace one of the accused responsible for the death of an elephant in the buffer zone of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) last year.

Almost one year ago, the elephant, an adult tusker, known locally as “Ronaldo” or “S.I.,” died from the injuries it suffered after three men, including two brothers running a resort-cum-residence in the buffer zone, hurled a burning object at the elephant that got stuck around its head, leading to suffering severe burns. After almost a week, the elephant, believed to be around 40-years-old and one of the largest tuskers in the landscape, died from its injuries while being taken to the Theppakadu Elephant Camp for treatment.

Following his death, a video surfaced of the three men hurling the burning object at the elephant when it approached their house in search of food. The police arrested two men — M. Raymond Dean, 28, from Mavanallah, and S. Prasath, 36, from Masinagudi. However, Raymond’s brother, M. Ricky Rayan, 31, went on the run soon after the incident. While both Raymond Dean and Prasath were booked under the Goondas Act, Rayan has remained untraceable for the past year.

Speaking to The Hindu, Deputy Director of MTR (Buffer Zone), P. Arunkumar, said a special team of the Forest Department officials, led by the Singara Forest Range Officer, has been formed to track and apprehend Rayan. He said concerted efforts will be taken to ensure that he is arrested.

Officials said Rayan had also failed to appear in court multiple times, and that he had been given time to appear in connection to the case, failing which a Non-Bailable Warrant (NBW) would be issued for his arrest. Rayan was also not believed to be living in the Nilgiris, and could have fled to a neighboring district, officials added.

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