Man is arrested over death of pregnant elephant that was killed by feeding it a pineapple filled with firecrackers

A man has been arrested over the death of a pregnant elephant who was killed after eating food laced with firecrackers in India.

The elephant wandered into a village near Silent Valley National Park, Palakkad, last week.

There she unwittingly ate food - thought to be pineapple - intentionally stuffed with the explosives, a technique used by locals to keep wild animals away from their crops.

The device exploded in her mouth and she was left in excruciating pain for days before dying standing up in a river on May 27. 

On Friday, a rubber tapper in his 40s was arrested for handling explosives and assisting others, Chief Wildlife Warden Surendra Kumar said.

Palakkad district police chief G Siva Vikram told New Delhi Television: 'The arrested man is a rubber tapper. A search is on for others.'

Images of the elephant standing in the Velliyar River with her trunk and wounded mouth submerged under the surface prompted international outcry. 

A postmortem on the elephant showed that she was around 15 years old but days of starvation likely left her looking significantly smaller.

The creature ate the firecracker-laced food and it exploded in her mouth causing 'severe traumatic injury'.

She was unable to eat or drink for days and wandered - while incredibly weak - into a river, likely to stop flies and bugs from entering the cuts.

Her official cause of death was respiratory failure after inhaling water. 

While local officials initially said the elephant ate pineapple, the post mortem was unable to confirm this.