Forest department personnel engaged in monitoring the movement of a tusker that strayed out of the reserve forest on the foothills of Naickaneri in Ambur Range in Tirupattur Forest Division encountered a group of three sandalwood smugglers during the early hours of Wednesday, but were unable to apprehend them.
On receiving information, the department assigned the forester and the two guards to track the tusker. On their way, they spotted four persons on bikes inside Sanankuppam reserve forest area. The officials signalled them to stop but they sped away. Meanwhile, an elderly woman slipped from the bike along with two plastic gunny bags. The official inspected the bag and found pieces of sandalwood in it.
“The three persons on the bikes were from the same village. The woman, Amsa (60) of Naickaneri was on her way to a hospital in Ambur and the youth had offered her a lift,” said a forest official quoting Amsa. The forest department has formed two special teams to nab the smugglers. “The villagers promised us that they would hand over the trio at the earliest. Only after inquiry we will know about the origin of the sandalwood and their network,” said the official. He also said that the sandalwood weighed 4.8 kgs, worth about Rs 25,000.