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Tusker poaching triggers alert

Jamshedpur, April 3: A male elephant was found poisoned by a river and robbed of its tusks in a dense forest of Chaibasa, West Singhbhum, last morning, spurring a security tizzy to identify and net its poachers.

Divisional forest officer (DFO), South Chaibasa, S.R. Natesh said they suspected that the tusker had strayed from a migratory herd from Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district, which borders Jharkhand, and was targeted by ivory smugglers.

“The 40-year-old male was found dead on the banks of Karan River along the state border. Poachers in Mayurbhanj perhaps poisoned it on Monday night and it died soon after crossing the river. The tusks were removed by the culprits who were tracking the elephant,” the DFO said.

The last incident of elephant poaching in Jharkhand was reported from Saranda in 2008, recalled DFO (Saranda) K.K. Tiwary.

Natesh added that a poison dart was used to bring down the gentle giant after it strayed from its herd and they were trying to detect the type of toxin used to zero in on the poachers.

“Post-mortem of the carcass has confirmed use of poison. Besides, we found no gunshot wounds on the animal. The vet team has preserved the viscera for further lab tests to ascertain the kind of poison administered to the tusker.”

Another senior forest official pointed out that identifying the poison was important because it would help them understand whether the poachers were local rogues or outsiders, whether they were amateurs or professionals.

Chaibasa’s peripheral jungle, home to around 40-odd elephants, is primarily a corridor for migratory herds. A large number of these mammals come from Mayurbhanj during the harvest period.

On whether they were combing the entire South Chaibasa forest division for the poachers, DFO Natesh replied in the affirmative. “We have not just beefed up security to apprehend the culprits, we have also launched an intensive hunt for the tusks. Raids are being conducted in Chaibasa’s suspected rogue pockets and other places across the West Singhbhum district,” he said.