The carcass of a 40-45-year-old tusker with only one tusk was found at Antarsanthe Range in Nagarhole Tiger Reserve on Monday morning. The missing tusk in the adult elephant led to wildlife activists to allege that the animal may have been poached after its death.
On Monday, veterinarian Dr Umashankar had conducted a postmortem. However, with wildlife activists and experts differing, a second postmortem was done by three veterinary doctors. After Tuesday’ post-mortem, Forest officials said the elephant had died a natural death and had only one tusk.
Speaking to Express, Nagarhole Tiger Reserve director Manikantan said, “The doctors opened the skull portion and examined the alveoli pocket (from where the tusk emerges) which was found to have callus growth.
The animal has lost its tusk some time ago, but we don’t know when. It had only one tusk intact measuring 1.7 meters.”
However, wildlife experts and activists are not happy with the findings. They say, “There is an organised gang of ivory smugglers operating in the 10 km radius and Antarsan the range is contiguous with Metikuppe and HD Kote. In the last one year, two tuskers were found dead with all their tusks missing in the HD Kote territorial range and till date, the criminals have not been found. The department is not serious about this case and investigating the poaching gangs operating in these regions.”
Former Forest officer and Wildlife First Trustee M K Chinnappa said, “The department is trying to bury facts. By this time, they should have filed an FIR. Poachers are operating freely and there have been
lot of irregularities in the Antarsanthe Range. The department refuses to take any action. This is not the first such incident in Nagarhole. Last time, when an elephant and a number of deer were killed due to
poisoning, we gave them the information, but the department slept on it.”