A 10-year-old wild male elephant was found dead in India on Thursday morning.
Tragically, he had starved to death - and the likely reason was man-made: pesticides.
The juvenile was spotted days before his death lingering on the edges of a forest area in Mankarai. A herd of elephants was seen guarding the sick pachyderm and attempting to feed him, but sadly, he was too ill for his friends or family to help him.
Forest officials deduced that his mouth was covered in ulcers, which were likely caused by eating fertilized crops, a conservationist told the Times of India. In India, it's common for elephants to eat local crops for sustenance.
Officials reportedly tried to throw the suffering animal some fruit, in lieu of veterinary care. Any last-ditch effort to save the elephant was shelved when a heavy downpour hit Wednesday night. The animal appeared to have perished in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Warning: Disturbing images below
Pesticide use on crops in Asia is widespread, says Simon Hedges, Asian elephant coordinator at the Wildlife Conservation Society. Hedges told The Dodo that elephants often eat staple crops like rice and cassava, pineapples, banana and palm oil from industrial-scale plantations. Altogether, Hedges believes potentially lethal pesticide accidents appear to be on the rise, as well as deliberate poisonings of water holes or grain or fruit by farmers who retaliate "for crop depredations and other forms of human-elephant conflict."