Assam: 24 ivory pieces seized; duo arrested in Guwahati


GUWAHATI, May 28, 2018: A total 24 pieces of ivory were seized by sleuths of the directorate of revenue intelligence while a contractual railway employee was collecting them on Saturday. The consignment was supposed to be smuggled to Nepal.

The consignment, weighing about 5.838kg, was seized near Guwahati railway station around 1pm when Suraj Kumar Das, a coach attendant of Saraighat Express, was collecting it from Badrul Hussain of Hojai district in central Assam.

"Interrogation of the duo revealed that Hussain picked up the packets containing the ivory from a person at Hojai for delivery to Das, who would deliver it to another person at New Jalpaiguri, for smuggling to Nepal through the border in north Bengal," a DRI Guwahati zonal unit official told the media. Das and Hussain were arrested.

Wildlife officials confirmed the tusks were extracted after killing at least five adult and sub-adult elephants, and since the ivory was sourced from Hojai, it is likely the elephants were killed in Karbi Anglong. It is a known fact that endangered species are regularly being slaughtered for their parts, especially because of the rising demand in the international market, a DRI statement said.

The directorate had seized 12.410kg ivory in February from a bus at Siliguri, which was sourced from Lakhimpur district in Upper Assam.

"Investigation to unearth the masterminds behind the gang of poachers and smugglers of animal parts is in progress," it said.

Bibhab Talukdar, wildlife expert and chief executive officer of Aaranyak, a wildlife NGO, said, "Clandestine operations of wildlife smugglers in the Northeast is increasing. It is good to see that DRI proactively tracking such illegal activities. But there are many more cases which remain undetected."

According to the Synchronised Elephant Population Estimation India 2017, the Northeast is home to 10,139 elephants, of which Assam has 5,719, with the state having 0.23 elephants per square kilometre. The Karbi Anglong hills border Kaziranga National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site.

"There is an urgent need of a concerted effort to fight wildlife crime, which has environmental, social and economic ramifications. DRI is committed to combating such crime and we have seized wildlife articles such as red sanders, star tortoises and other species of turtles, deer antlers, tiger and leopard skins," the statement said.

Source: The Telegraph

Featured image: The Telegraph