A Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the Madras High Court will on May 15 commence its probe on the 19 elephant deaths between 2014 and 2018 in the forest areas of Tamil Nadu.
The team will have to submit a status report before the court on June 10.
The SIT will probe the elephant deaths that were reported at the Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Sathyamangalam, Erode and Hasanur divisions.
A division bench of the Madras High Court comprising Justices V. Bharathidasan and N. Sathish Kumar had ordered the constitution of the SIT as the pace of the CBI investigation into the case was slow.
The SIT comprises Superintendent of Police (CBI) Nirmala Devi, former Chief Wildlife Warden of Tamil Nadu Shekhar Kumar Niraj, Tamil Nadu Forest Training College principal B. Rajmohan, Deputy Superintendent of Police Santhosh Kumar and Mohan Nawas, Additional Superintendent of Police, Naxalite Special Division, Nilgiris.
The court also directed that the SIT can engage the services of officers from the police and forest departments after taking necessary permissions from the departments concerned.
It also allowed the team to conduct an investigation under the Code of Criminal Procedure as well as the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
Of the 19 elephant deaths, only five were due to poaching.
The rest were either due to electrocution or other reasons.
The Madras High Court also directed the SIT to conduct an investigation and arrest the accused in poaching and recover ivory from the smugglers.
The court said that this would act as a deterrent to those who commit wildlife crimes like poaching and killing of protected species and other wild animals.
The Madras High Court has also said that it will decide on whether more members should be included in the SIT .