Guwahati: As several cases of elephants being smuggled from Assam and other northeastern states are being reported, the forest department has called for an examination of microchips on all captive elephants in the neighbouring state of Assam.
A notification from the office of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW) read, “It is learnt that several of captive elephants of Assam origin without permission moved to the neighbouring State of Assam are being used for illegal activities such as, dragging of illicitly felled timber and also that several of those elephants could not carry microchip.”
The notification added, “In view of the above, it has been directed that all such elephant registered in the respective division but currently being kept in the neighbouring state of Assam like Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur. Mizoram, Tripura & Meghalaya are required to be produced in the respective division for examining for a microchip and if found without any microchip for all such elephant DNA progeny test must be carried out.”
The notification further said that if any elephant owner fails to produce the elephants within 90 (ninety) days of receiving the order, the elephant may be seized forthwith and brought back to the State (Assam).
Earlier, top forest officials of Odisha have said that elephants from Assam are being “smuggled” to Gujarat with false NOCs obtained by using forged signatures.
According to a report, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW) have alerted their Assam counterpart and the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) regarding this.
At least, eight such cases have come to the fore in the last month, where attempts were allegedly made by racketeers to fake NOCs by using forged signatures to smuggle elephants from Assam, New Indian Express reported.
Seven of these cases saw attempts made to transport elephants to Radhe Krishna Temple at Jamnagar in Gujarat.
The Radhe Krishna Temple Elephant Welfare Trust (RKTEWT), an organisation based in Moti Khavdi village in Jamnagar, Gujarat is supported by Reliance Industries Limited (RIL).
The first case related to the trafficking of a jumbo to Odisha from Assam.
Interestingly, the Odisha CWLW office had earlier received an application for transportation of a captive jumbo from Assam to the Koraput district.
Upon verification by the divisional forest officer, it was found that the requisites were not met and the application was rejected, the report mentioned.
When a fake NOC reached the Assam CWLW, it sought clarification from its Odisha counterpart and the first case was detected.
However, the CWLW office was perplexed when it received queries from its Gujarat counterpart about seven NOCs allegedly issued by the former for the transportation of captive elephants.
All the seven NOCs were identical – from applicant to destination. Only the description of the jumbos was different.
The applicant purportedly was one Mukeswar Konwar from the Sivasagar district. In all, the signatures were reportedly forged to generate the NOCs.
Suspecting a racket, the Odisha CWLW office wrote to all states as well as WCCB.
“It seems that a big racket is operating in illegal trafficking. As this illegal operation has inter-state ramifications, it is requested to examine the matter and issue an advisory from the Ministry to all CWLWs to closely scrutinize all the cases/applications of transportation of elephants and to check the authenticity of the documents relating to such transfers from the issuing authorities/states,” the letter mentioned.
Recently, the volunteers of the Adi students’ union had stopped trucks at Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh transporting the 10 “domestic elephants”, suspecting illegal animal trafficking.
However, the police and forest authorities in the East Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh cleared the transportation of the elephants after the drivers of the trucks produced valid documents, including a permit from the chief wildlife wardens of Arunachal Pradesh and Gujarat.
The 10 “domestic elephants” were ‘bought’ by the Radhe Krishna temple elephant welfare trust from different owners in the Namsai district of Arunachal Pradesh.
Arunachal Pradesh Abotani Community Consideration has raised suspicion over the transportation of the elephants demanding the arrest of “those involved in the illegal transportation and smuggling of elephants from our state to other states”.
The Centre for Research on Animal Rights (CRAR) also wrote to the forest departments of Gujarat, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam over the transportation of the elephants to Gujarat’s Jamnagar from Arunachal Pradesh.
The CRAR dubbed the transportation of the elephants suspicious and sought a probe into it.