Vikash Sharma

 At least four hunters were arrested on Saturday in connection with the poaching of an elephant in Talabandha wildlife range of Similipal National Park in Odisha's Mayurbhanj district.

Senior officials said that the poachers had killed the elephant and removed its tusks. The four poachers were arrested following a raid by a joint team of Bisoi police and Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) at three places including Rugudidiha and Matiali sahi areas last night. Over 50 personnel were involved in the operation.

All the accused were nabbed after the joint team got information that the poachers were planning to strike a deal for the tusks. One of the accused had kept the ivory hidden at an isolated place behind the backyard of his house.

Sources said that a detailed investigation will be carried out to ascertain involvement of the poachers in other wildlife crimes. Further, their linkages with other gang involved in illegal wildlife trade will also be ascertained.

It is pertinent to mention here that the decomposed carcass of the elephant with its tusks missing was recovered from Talabandha wildlife range of Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) on January 21.

Earlier, several forest department officials of Jenabil range under STR south were arrested on the charges of destroying evidence by burning the carcass of an elephant under Gurandi beat in December 2022.

(Reported by Maniklal Pani and Dipak Mahanta)