People in Mizoram recently feasted on meat of an elephant. And it is sad that the Mizoram Forest Department is still sleeping over the bizarre episode.

A 47-year-old captive elephant, Laxmi, died few days ago in the Kanhmun Forest Range in Mamit district of west Mizoram, bordering the Jampui hills of Tripura.

In a most bizarre occurrence, the body of the dead elephant was sliced, and the meat was distributed and consumed openly by the villagers.

Suparna Ganguly, co-founder trustee of the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, Bangalore, on Monday, registered a complaint with Noyal Thomas, head of the Project Elephant Division of MOEF&CC about the incident.

Also Read – People feast on meat of dead elephant in Mizoram

Ganguly, the petitioner of a writ petition (No. 743 of 2014) in the Supreme Court about welfare of captive elephants, said as per information from the local people, the elephant Laxmi was badly overworked which led to her death.

There are several other elephants (all from Assam), who are overworked and are in poor physical condition and health in Mizoram, Ganguly said.

Surprisingly, the Mizoram Forest Department is yet to register a case on the death of the elephant and subsequent bizarre incident of people feasting on the meat.

“We are trying to investigate the case,” C.M. Rao, the Chief Wildlife Warden of Mizoram told Northeast Now on Tuesday.

Also Read – Assam: Wild elephants kill 75-year-old man in Hojai

Rao said they are yet to register any case. “We are trying to identify the people who were involved in the incident,” he said.

The Chief Wildlife Warden of Mizoram said elephants from Assam, especially from the Barak Valley often come to Mizoram, and accordingly, grazing permit is issued.

But, in case of the elephant, Laxmi, the owner, one Md. Mastufa Ahmed Laskar of Sonai in Cachar district of Assam had leased it to one Pu Khualhina of  Kanhmun in Mizoram for carrying heavy logs in the jungle.

Interestingly, Assam Forest Department officials still don’t have information on Laxmi being leased out to someone in Mizoram for carrying logs in the hilly jungle.

Sunneydeo Choudhury, divisional forest officer of Cachar said the Assam Forest Department did not issue any permission to Md. Mastufa Ahmed Laskar to transport the elephant to Mizoram.

“We spoke to the owner, and asked him to produce the post-mortem report within the next 48 hours,” Choudhury said, adding that transporting the elephant to Mizoram was illegal.

As per reports, Laxmi was issued ownership certificate on September 1, 2009 by the conservator of forest, Southern Assam Circle. The validity of the ownership certificate ended on August 2014.

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Sunneydeo Choudhury said there are 38 captive elephants in Cachar, and micro-chips as been implanted on 33 of them. And, only 26 of the 38 elephants have valid ownership certificates.

If the ownership certificate issued to Md. Mastufa Ahmed Laskar for Laxmi expired in August 2014, it is surprising as to why the Mizoram Forest Department did not confiscate the elephant.

How did the Mizoram Forest Department issue grazing permit on June 7, 2019 to the elephant which was transported illegally to Mizoram?

As per Rule 12 of the Declaration of Stock Rules, captive elephants in respect of which ownership certificate has not been granted or obtained could be treated as government property.

If a captive elephant is liable to be confiscated, the Chief Wildlife Warden may either take possession of the captive elephant or place it at a public or private facility which can provide the necessary care.

Ganguly said officials of the Mizoram Forest Department should immediately get in touch with their counterpart in Assam, and post mortem examination should be conducted to ascertain the cause of death.

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Anirban Roy

Anirban Roy is Editor-in-Chief of Northeast Now. He can be reached at: editor@nenow.in

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