BENGALURU: The recent arrest of two traders in Davanagere has exposed how ivory trading continues unabated not only in the central districts, but in the entire state. This year alone, forest and police officials have seized 23 tusks while in September, the seizure of 51 kg of ivory (10 tusks) in Belthangady, was the largest seizure in recent times.
According to police and forest officials, there is a link between poaching and trading of ivory tusks in some four to five districts as ivory fetches a huge price in the international market despite the global ban. Bengaluru in fact, receives a huge cache of ivory from neighbouring Tamil Nadu and police have nabbed a few offenders.
This year, trading in ivory has spread to central areas like Chikkamagaluru, Davanagere and Shivamogga. Upon investigating, it was found that there was a link. In the Davangere case, the Chikkamagaluru forest police squad, who kept watch for a few days, arrested two traders who had been trading for some time. Wildlife conservationist G Veeresh said, “With a huge demand for elephant tusks, trading in ivory continues unabated. If the elephant is poached in Western Ghats, the tusks are traded in central areas and if poached in Tamil Nadu, it is traded in Bengaluru. If it is killed in Kerala, it is traded in Dakshina Kannada.
Hunters and traders have developed a strong network from state to state and district to district.” According to foresters, a lodge near a private bus stand in Davanagere city was raided. The squad recovered two tusks. The offenders were Ramesh, a goldsmith from Davanagere, and Kattappa, a resident of Holalkere. The probe revealed that the kingpin was one Mamtha and Krishnappa who are absconding. Officials added that a state government engineer and a lecturer too were involved in ivory trading which helped them earn money fast.
The offenders reportedly demanded Rs 2 crore for two tusks, in a decoy operation conducted by police. Chikkamagaluru Forest Police Squad team comprised Sub Inspector Chinnappa. The other staffers are Kumar, Chandregowda and Darnesh. The case has been handed over to Davanagere RFO Asha Rani for further investigations.