By R. Chetan
Anekal cops say an organised gang is targeting jumbos for their tusks in the forests near Krishnagiri
If a sole operator, Saravanan, is keeping forest brigand Veerappan's legacy alive in Chamarajanagar, an organised gang seems to have taken over part of the old territory in Krishnagiri, along the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border.
Over the last 11 months, the police have seized nearly a dozen elephant tusks, setting alarm bells ringing. Six tusks were seized from poachers belonging to Anchetty near Krishnagiri by the police at Hebbagodi and Hosur last July. The police had also recovered arms and machetes used for crime (which is significant in any wildlife case) from Anchetty forests.
And on June 9, Anekal police arrested Govindaswamy and Chetan, both from Anchetty, who were trying to sell two ivories weighing 15.5 kg. "They were trying to sell ivories at Indalvadi cross near Anekal. This seems to be part of a bigger racket and the investigation is on," said D S Rajendra, police inspector, Anekal.
Hebbagodi police last year had seized six tusks of elephants aged between 15-18 years and subsequently recovered a handmade single-barrel rifle hidden inside rocks, and ammunition from inside a tree. This seizure had also alarmed Tamil Nadu's elite police force - the Q branch - who had probed possible Naxal links. However, with the recent arrest of both Govindaswamy and Chetan, forest officials and police are now looking at an organised gang operating in and around Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, seeking ivory.
Leopard skins, deer skins, and other wildlife products seized in the city too have an Anchetty connect, which is a factor to be worried about, officials said. "Anchetty connections are popping up repeatedly in the seizure of wildlife products in border areas of late. This throws light on a well-organised set-up behind the wildlife crimes. The exercise of collating all these cases with Anchetty connection has already begun and the forest department is looking at the gang," a senior forest department official told Bangalore Mirror.
The recently arrested duo are said to have claimed that they were only involved in selling the ivory and not in hunting. They have been sent to judicial custody.
"They will again be taken into custody by the police and an attempt will be made to reach the source of these tusks and the arms used. Others involved from Anchetty will also be probed," a senior cop said.