The State Forest Department has sought the assistance of the State Police Intelligence to arrest Ikkary Vasu alias ‘Varutuppara’ Veerappan, the alleged suspect in the killing of at least five wild elephants in the Vazhachal forest division.
A top forest investigator said that Vasu, a known wildlife offender, had gone off the department’s radar last year. He said the carcasses of the five elephants discovered in Vazhachal were unlikely to be fresh kills as reported.
The bones showed yellowing. It was also possible they were deliberately charred by the poachers. Crime scene investigations were on.
The raids conducted by wildlife enforcers following the killings have so far resulted in the seizure of 51 kg of ivory, much of it in the form of artefacts, reliquaries, figurines of gods, and trinkets. Some hewn portions of elephant tusks were also seized.
Investigators said not all ivory were from wild elephants. A bulk of it could be tusks of dead captive elephants sold to the ivory dealers illegally.
As many as 16 persons, including ivory carvers and middlemen, have been arrested so far. The majority of the arrests were made in the capital, the alleged hub of ivory trade in South India.
APCCF (Vigilance) G. Harikumar is heading the probe.