The six month-long probe into the Edamalayar elephant poaching case, which unearthed the operation of an inter-State ivory trade racket, is finally set to end with the Forest Department slated to submit the charge-sheet in January.
“A couple of more persons are left to be arrested and upon collecting their statement, the final report will be submitted to the top officials. After due legal consultations, a charge-sheet will be framed for submission at the Kothamangalam Chief Judicial Magistrate court in mid-January,” said K. Vijayanathan, Divisional Forest officer, Malayattur. Investigations revealed that the poaching gang had operated in the forest division for two years from 2013. In the Vazhachal forest division, they reportedly camped for about two months from December 2014.
The tusks extracted from wild elephants were sold directly to the dealers, which after changing several hands and converted into artefacts, were sold in markets as far as New Delhi and Kolkota.
So far, the authorities have recovered about five tonnes of ivory and arrested 49 persons including Delhi-based ivory artefact trader Umesh Aggarwal. The authorities have also recovered the carcass of as many as 16 elephants, including 10 from Malayattur and four from Vazhachal divisions.
Of these, the smugglers failed to extract the tusks from two elephants, one each from Vazhachal and Munnar divisions, which were spotted in a later stage.
“We have included them in the scope of investigation after confirming that they were also shot down by the gang led by Aikkaramuttom Vasu. They, however, were unable to extract the tusks from them as they might have run away after being shot,” said N.Rajesh, DFO, Vazhachal.
Meanwhile, officials denied reports that the transferring of Thundathil Forest range officer would affect the investigation as he was just one among the investigators.