By P. Oppili
A major gang involved in poaching of wildlife in both Tamil Nadu and Kerala was busted by officials of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (Southern Region) in Palakkad last Wednesday.
Six poachers of Pollachi were arrested and a pair of tusks was seized.
S.R.V. Murthy, Regional Deputy Director, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (Southern Region) Chennai, told The Hindu that they received information about the poaching of a wild elephant for its tusks in the Pollachi area. A special team formed to investigate the input confirmed that an elephant was killed for its tusks about a year ago.
To get the tusks, the authorities sent an officer from their department as a prospective buyer, who met one of the gang members. He asked the kingpin of the gang Kaniappan to come to Palakkad to strike a deal. When the unsuspecting accused reached Palakkad, he was arrested. Arun Prasad, Balakrishnan, Sundaram, Parthasarathy and Mari, associates of the prime suspect, were also arrested.
Sundaram was a habitual offender, who was arrested a couple of years ago for possessing a tiger skin. Parthasarathy was the mediator who negotiated the price of the trophies.
The official said the tusks buried by the gang in Pollachi area were recovered by forest officials. One member of the gang managed to escape and the officials were looking for him.
The bureau made the arrest at Palakkad with the help of Kerala Forest officials and the case was handed over to them for further investigation.
State Wildlife officials said Kaniappan was a tribal, who often visited interior forest areas to collect deer horn and to track male elephants that die naturally to collect their tusks.
The number of poaching incidents in the Aanamalai or Mudumalai Tiger Reserves in the State was relatively less compared to incidents in Kerala forests, they added.