The directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI) on Sunday sleuths seized 24 pieces of ivory here while a contractual railway employee was collecting them here on Saturday.
The consignment, weighing around 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 in central Assam’s Hojai district.
“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,” The Telegraph quoted a DRI official as saying. 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.
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.