Kumar said the men made several “coconut bombs” in the second week of May, and left them near the plantation boundary.
Officials said it was unclear when exactly the 15-year-old elephant consumed the rigged fruit but it was found injured on May 25, two days before it died.
Forest officials said the explosion caused severe damage to its mouth, leaving the creature unable to eat or drink for days.
Villagers across India often use explosive or firecracker-filled fruits -– which act like pressure-activated landmines –- as bait to target wild animals that threaten crops and homes.
A similar incident was reported last month in a nearby Kerala district, when a female pachyderm was found with serious mouth injuries.
If convicted, the men could face up to seven years in jail for killing an elephant, a protected animal under Indian wildlife laws.