Hundreds of devotees and residents of Tiruvannamalai bid a tearful adieu to Rukmani alias Rukku, the elephant of Sri Arunachaleswarar Temple. The pachyderm, which was about to turn 30 years, died suddenly early on Thursday. It had sustained injuries after it hit against tin sheets that were attached to poles, on seeing a stray dog.

According to a temple priest, Rukku was brought to the temple when it was about four or five years old. It died at 12.15 a.m. on Thursday. “On hearing the news, hundreds of devotees and residents from across Tiruvannamalai thronged the temple. The mahout told us that it was terrified after a dog came near it,” the priest said.

“Out of fear, the elephant hit against tin sheets that were attached to poles. It sustained injuries on the forehead, eye and trunk. The tin sheets were sharp and caused cut injuries. However, the cause of death is yet to be ascertained,” an official said.

Veterinarians from the Department of Animal Husbandry lifted samples from the carcass. “The elephant sustained only scratches in the incident. It is too early to say what caused its death. We have taken samples including blood and other materials such as fodder and water. We have sent the samples for analysis. We will have to wait for the report to ascertain the cause of death,” an official said.

The elephant was buried near the Anjaneya Temple on Vada Othavadai Street in the afternoon.