GUWAHATI, Dec 8 � The Forest Department has instituted an inquiry into the incident in which the tusks and tail of an injured elephant were reportedly cut off and taken away by poachers at the Pancharatna Reserve Forest in Goalpara. Meanwhile, in another incident, an elephant was killed by poachers at the Dulung Reserve Forest in Lakhimpur district and its tusks taken away.
�We have instituted an inquiry into the incident which is being conducted by CCF D Harprasad. He has been at the spot and will submit the findings soon,� S Chand, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), told The Assam Tribune. He, however, refuted reports in a section of the media that miscreants cut off the tusks, trunk and tail of the injured elephant.
�This is absolutely wrong, as the trunk and the tail are intact, and a tusk appears broken which is the likely result from a fall from the hilly terrain after what we suspect was an incident of infighting,� Chand said.
The injured elephant was first noticed by a local on Wednesday evening, following which the Forest authorities were informed. The local people alleged that Forest personnel took a long time in reaching the spot and treating the animal which had been lying in a swamp since. Chand said that a team of Forest officials from Guwahati besides veterinarians had gone to the spot on Thursday, and that the elephant was responding to the treatment well.
�We are also using three kunkees (trained domestic elephants), including two rushed in from the Manas National Park, for evacuating the injured elephant,� Chand said.
Aaranyak, a biodiversity conservation body, has expressed serious concern over the killing of an elephant at the Dulung RF of Lakhimpur district as also the injured elephant whose tusks were allegedly removed at Pancharatna in Goalpara. In a statement, Aaranyak demanded a thorough probe into both the incidents by investigating agencies to bring the culprits to book immediately for checking recurrence of such incidents in Assam.
Aaranyak has also urged the State Government to set up rapid response units comprising trained veterinarians in different zones of Assam to immediately cater to the need of speedy treatment of injured wild animals.
�As winter approaches, Aaranyak cautioned the Government that human-wildlife conflicts like straying of leopards into human habitations, elephant depredations due to lack of water and food in existing habitats are likely to get serious and as such, preparatory measures have to be planned now to address such crises in a time- bound manner,� it said.
Environmental scientist Prof Dulal Chandra Goswami also condemned the alleged inertia of the Forest Department in checking the disturbing trend of killing of wildlife across the State � be it in man-elephant conflict or by poachers.
�These have been most dastardly acts by poachers and miscreants but this raises the question what the Forest authorities are doing. Wild animals are no longer safe even in their supposed protected areas. The recent incidents have shaken the sensibility and conscience of the people not just here but across the globe,� Prof Goswami said, adding that the sooner the authorities brought an end to this most heinous crime, the better it would be for the helpless denizens of the forests.
Prof Goswami said that some urgent and decisive steps were urgently needed in this connection by the Forest authorities.