Elephant Poaching Cases Enter Crucial Stage (Kochi, India)


Hiran Unnikrishnan, The Hindu

Date Published

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After months of delay and several revised deadlines, the probe in the Edamalayar elephant poaching cases has entered a crucial stage with the Forest Department beginning to file charge sheets.

Officials said the department had filed a batch of eight charge sheets with the judicial first class magistrate courts at Kothamangalam and Kuruppampady while charge sheets in six cases had been sent for legal verification. It had started preparing charge sheets in the remaining five cases, which are slated for filing by the first week of May.

The department is awaiting lab test results of seized ivory artefacts, samples of which have been sent to the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB).

“About 80 samples have been sent for laboratory tests and the results are expected by May 15, which will then be incorporated with the relevant charge sheets,” said K. Vijayanathan, Divisional Forest Officer, Malayattur.

Earlier this year, the department convened a meeting to review the progress of investigation and decided to file the first batch of charge sheets by the end of January. The plan, however, did not work out accordingly owing to the delay in receiving the laboratory results in time and replacement of the Thundathil Range officer, who investigated the case, with another official.

The Forest Department had registered 19 cases in connection with poaching, use of firearms and illegal trade of ivory. The sleuths have so far arrested 84 persons in this connection and seized about 489.22 kg of ivory, in addition to 10 vehicles and 15 country-made guns.

Investigation revealed that the poaching gang operated in Malayattur for about two years from 2013. In the Vazhachal region, it camped for a couple of months from December 2014.

The authorities had also recovered the carcasses of 18 elephants, including 10 from Malayattur, four from Vazhachal, and three from Munnar forest divisions.

The tusks extracted from wild elephants had been sold directly to dealers, which after changing several hands and converted into artefacts, were taken to markets in New Delhi and Kolkata, it was found.