BARIPADA: Police and forest personnel of Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) arrested four persons and seized two elephant tusks weighing around 120 kg from their possession in Mayurbhanj’s Bisoi area on Saturday night.
The arrested persons were identified as Govind Hembram (50) and Ramrai Tudu (42) of Rugudihi village besides Kuna Singh Naik (45) and Kuna Naik (23) of Talakbadi within Bisoi police limits. Each of the seized tusks is 44-inch-long. The accused were planning to sell the tusks, said police.
Officer-in-charge (OIC) of Bisoi police station Mili Bhoi said after the recovery of a tusker carcass in Talabandha forest range on January 22, it was found that some locals removed the tusks of the elephant. On the direction of Mayurbhanj SP Rishikesh D Khilari, a team comprising 15 police personnel and staff of STR, North was formed to nab the culprits.
Impersonating as buyers, the team members met seven persons who went to the forest in the last four days and offered them money for the tusks. One of them revealed the names of the persons who had the tusks.
At around 10.30 pm, multiple teams comprising 40 police personnel and forest staff jointly raided Rugudihi, Talakbadi and Matialisahi villages. During search, one of the tusks was found under a heap of paddy straw in the backyard of Govind’s house. Similarly, the other tusk was buried in a field near the house of Kuna Singh.
The two accused and the tusks were brought to Biosi police station. During interrogation, the duo revealed the names of other two accused. Govind and Kuna Singh said they had gone to the forest for collection of dry wood and leaves. On spotting the carcass of the elephant, they removed the tusks and took those with them to their villages.
The OIC said another three persons were detained in this connection. All the seven persons and the two tusks were handed over to forest officials.Deputy director of STR, North Sai Kiran said the four accused were arrested under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The rest three were released after it was found that they were not involved in the case.
On January 22, the carcass of an elephant with its tusks removed was found at Asadola in Talabandha wildlife range of STR, North. It was spotted by forest staff who were engaged in a transect line survey of post-monsoon phase-IV monitoring.