Collage with images of ivory and people arrested in elephant poaching case. File photo: Manorama
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Ivory valued over Rs 1.5 crore have been smuggled into different cities in the country from Kerala during the past one year, revealed documents recovered by the police from the middlemen involved in the illegal trade.
According to the diary seized from Aji Bright, one of the accused in the Edamalayar poaching case, the kingpins behind the illicit trade are based in Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai.
The diary, which carries vital information on the ivory racket in the other states and their contact details as well as financial transactions between them, would be handed over the CBI once the agency takes over the investigation of the case.
According to the police, the key dealers of ivory taken from elephants hunted down by poachers in the State were those who were arrested from Thiruvananthapuram recently. The police also suspect the involvement of more people in the illegal trade.
The investigations have revealed that ivory had been smuggled frequently from Thiruvananthapuram into Kolkata, Delhi and Chandigarh in the recent past. A woman based in Kolkata is said to be the kingpin of the racket while a Keralite based in Delhi is believed to be one of the biggest players in this illegal trade. Their phone numbers and other details were mentioned in the diary seized by the police. It also clearly indicated that the ivory was sold for amounts varying from Rs 25 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.
According to the information received by the forest intelligence wing, as many as 40 elephants were gunned down for extracting tusks by the poaching gangs operating in the forests of Edamalayar, Parambikulam, Wayanad and Munnar during the past two years.
The extracted tusks would be given a coat of painting before being smuggled into Kolkata through airports, from where they would be sent to Nepal. Once they reach Nepal, due to the absence of stringent laws against ivory trade in the country, the selling and buying become easier, the officials revealed.