Thrissur: An elephant poacher has been apprehended by the Crime Branch. Reji (35) from Kuttampuzha was arrested by the authorities after a probe into temple robberies led to his hideout.
The Crime Branch team had reached Muthalamada in Palakkad to enquire temple robberies in the district. Following a tip-off, they arrested Reji who was in hiding. There are a number of cases against him and he is accused of keeping an unlicensed gun with him and for hunting in the forests. A case has also been charged against him at the Bhoothathankettu station for hunting deer.
On May 24, he escaped from forest officials by a whisker when he was travelling in an auto with a locally-made unlicensed gun. He was also involved in the sale of elephant tusks. Reji has been handed to the local police for further investigations.
On Saturday, three officials of the Forest Department were suspended in connection with poaching of wild elephants in the Vazhachal and Athirappilly regions.
Earlier, carcasses of five wild elephants were found in a combing operation led by Vigilance Principal Chief Conservator of Forest.
The team found the bones and teeth of four elephants in the Thundathil forest division and the remains of another one in the Malayattur division. These samples, thought to be six months to one-and-a-half years old, have been sent for forensic examination.
Officials suspect that as many as 28 elephants had been killed during this time for their tusks.