Centre’s Delay Hits Elephant Poaching Probe (India, Kochi)


Dhinesh Kallungal, New Indian Express

Date Published

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The Centre and the CBI are yet to respond to the state government’s demand for a probe into the elephant poaching cases in Kerala. The uncertainty over the national-level probe has been affecting the progress of the ongoing probe by the Forest Department.

Forest Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan told ‘Express’, “the Centre is yet to decide on the state’s proposal seeking a CBI probe into the poaching cases, which has national and international connections. It is up to them to take a final decision. When asked whether the delay will have any bearing on the progress of the Forest Department’s probe, he said the Department would go ahead with it until the state receives an assurance from the Centre to this effect.”

According to senior officials, the department has certain limits as the case has wider ramifications. The state Forest Department alone cannot handle the poaching cases since the ivory dealers and their markets have transnational connections. The officials investigating the case stumbled upon a information following the recovery of the personal diary of an accused arrested in the ivory trade case which brought to the fore the involvement of some of the bigwigs in the trade. The delay will affect the prospects of the case, they said.

The state government issued a notification clearing the way for the CBI to take over the probe into the elephant poaching cases and ivory trade in August. According to the state Information Commissioner, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy signed the letter (No 79785/M.3/2015/Home) seeking CBI investigation into the case on August 12.

Forest officials have arrested around 45 persons, including poachers, their accomplices, ivory traders and artisans who make ivory artifacts in connection with the ivory trade, and recovered carcasses of around 17 elephants hunted by poachers.