Nine poachers were arrested on Thursday after SOG jawans apprehended them during a search operation in Mundeswar reserve forest in Adenigarh panchayat under Purnakatak police limits in the district on Tuesday evening.
The SOG jawans also traced the carcass of the elephant, whose tusks had been removed by the poachers on Tuesday. Those arrested have been identified as Murali Mahalick, Babuli Mahalick of Durgaprasad village, Dharmaraj Nayak of Jemadeipur, Gopal Nayak and Prakash Behera of Chakragarh, all in Cuttack district; Panchanan Kanhar of Badakhajuri village, Manoranjan Pradhan and Subhaya Pradhan of Surutaganda village besides, Manmath Kanhar, all in Boudh district.
Informing this to mediapersons, Boudh SP B Gangadhar said Panchanan came to know that a tusker was limping in Kanya hill, about 6 km from Badakhajuri under Talgaon gram panchayat. He intimated Manoranjan, who in turn informed the others. The gang assembled and planned to kill the tusker and do away with the tusks. They killed the animal on Tuesday afternoon.
However, they ran out of luck when they were returning with the tusks as SOG jawans intercepted them on the suspicion of being Maoists. On search, they recovered eight pieces of the tusks, three country-made rifles, ammunition, an axe and some chemicals from them. Police suspect that the nine poachers could be part of a bigger gang and the recovery of tusks has brought the Forest department under scanner. The tusker was aged about 40 years and the tusks would have fetched 25,000 per kg in black market.