s manikandan
45-year-old senior forest officer S Manikandan was trampled to death by an elephant near Kabini backwaters in Karnataka.Irfan Rasool/Twitter

In a tragic incident on World Wildlife Day on Saturday, a senior Indian Forest Services (IFS) officer and director of Nagarhole Tiger Reserve in Karnataka, S Manikandan, was trampled to death by an elephant at DB Kuppe forest range located around Kabini backwaters in Karnataka. The 45-year-old will be cremated with state honors.

Manikandan was on a recce inside the forest to assess the damage caused by a fire on Friday. He was reportedly accompanied by three forest range officers (RFO) and was trying to trace the exact location of the fire using GPS.

On reaching the spot, the forest officer got down from the vehicle and moved towards the exact location. At that time, an elephant hiding in the bushes attacked Manikandan. It has to be noted that neither Manikandan nor his fellow RFOs carried any weapon which could have possibly saved the forest officer's life.

Manikandan was even alerted by his companions that there is an elephant near him, but it was too late. Meanwhile, according to a report by New Indian Express, RFO Subramanyan had a narrow escape as he was the one standing near Manikandan.

A severely injured Manikandan was then rushed to a hospital in Heggadadevana kote taluk of Mysore where he was declared brought dead.

RFOs witnessed the horror

One of the RFOs recalled that he and RFO Subramanyan did raise an alarm as they had seen the elephant heading out from the bushes. But it was just a matter of few seconds, said RFO Muthuraj.

He added that Manikandan was in a light-colored shirt and not in his uniform, which could likely be one of the reasons why the elephant attacked. It is believed that light-colored shirt could have been vibrant enough to attract the elephant's attention. Usually, the uniform of the officers in IFS is a camouflage of green and brown.

Further explaining the horror, RFO Muthuraj said that in an attempt to escape from the spot, Manikandan tripped and fell on the ground. By this time, the elephant trampled him, grabbed him by his trunk, threw him away and disappeared into the woods.

Manikandan apparently died on the spot. 

IFS officer receives guard of honor

Manikandan's body was later shifted to Mysore and given a guard of honor by forest department staff and district administration. He is survived by his wife and two children. A police official confirmed that his body will be handed over to the family after a post-mortem at KR Hospital in Mysore.

A forest officer was quoted by The Hindu as saying that Manikandan's last rites will be performed in his native Theni district, Tamil Nadu.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president G Parameshwara, IFS officers and a section of social media users expressed condolences and paid tribute to Manikandan on Twitter. Here are a few tweets:

A section of social media users along with the President of India, Chief Minister of Karnataka, KPCC (Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee) President G Parameshwara and IFS officers expressed condolences and paid tribute to Manikandan on Twitter. Here are a few tweets: