No let-up in Edamalayar poaching (India)


Hiram Unnikrishnan, The Hindu

Date Published


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Two days ago, the forest officers under the Malayattur division nabbed 49-year-old Varghese Thondingal on charges of poaching a sambar from the Pooyamkutty forests.

The person, who had been under surveillance of the forest officials at least for over a decade, is believed to be member of a major poaching gang operating in the region.

During a raid, the officials recovered about seven kilograms of meat from the possession of the accused and a search is on to trace the fire arm used by the accused to gun down the animal.

The timing of his arrest, however, has come as a shocker to the Forest Department, which has claimed to have heightened vigil in the Edamalayar forests after details about the biggest elephant poaching case emerged from the region.

“It shows that the department needs to devise new strategies to prevent those living on the forest fringe, which has become a den of country-made fire arms, from engaging in wildlife crimes’’, pointed out a senior Forest Department official.

Once the poaching case came to light, the department revised its interior patrolling and camping schedule in the Vazhachal and Malayattur forests divisions.

As part of this, it has started reviving the hitherto defunct interior camps at crucial locations and identifying new interior routes to ensure round the clock monitoring of the region.

For instance in Vazhachal, the department has revived three such camps at Karathodu, Mechappalluy and Ullassery regions and plans to set up camps at four more locations by next month.

“The strategy, however, will be effective only if we could tackle the flourishing illegal arms trade in these villages.

Attempts by the department to collect inputs on the concentration of country-made guns in the region are yet to make any headway’’ the official added

Meanwhile, the department is on the final stages of filing the chargesheets in the Edamalayar elephant poaching case.

From poaching to use of fire arms and illegal trade of ivory, the Forest Department has registered about 20 cases in this connection, seized about 463 kg of ivory and arrested 50 persons including Delhi-based ivory artefact trader Umesh Aggarwal.