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 Animals  India Project #21710

Help Save Elephants in India

by Wildlife Trust of India
Help Save Elephants in India
Help Save Elephants in India
Help Save Elephants in India
Help Save Elephants in India
Help Save Elephants in India
Help Save Elephants in India
Help Save Elephants in India
Help Save Elephants in India
Help Save Elephants in India
Help Save Elephants in India
Help Save Elephants in India
Help Save Elephants in India
Help Save Elephants in India
Help Save Elephants in India
Help Save Elephants in India
Help Save Elephants in India
Help Save Elephants in India
Suspected poachers
Suspected poachers

In yet another major breakthrough for the Kerala Forest Department, three seasoned elephant poachers from Tamil Nadu and a middle man was arrested from the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border on October 15, 2015. The middle man Babu alias Chettiar and his father Jose were habitual offenders and had been associated with ivory trade for decades.

When questioned, Babu confessed supplying about 200 kgs of ivory to Trivandrum based ivory trader - Brite Aji -- who was arrested earlier. Babu and his father went into hiding soon after Brite Aji was arrested. With their arrests, the Kerala Forest Department is hoping to get more information about elephant poaching and ivory trade in South India.

These arrests came after the Kerala Forest Department, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and Delhi Police seized 487 kgs of ivory in an undercover operation in Delhi on October 10, 2015. This haul was the result of a carefully planned ‘Operation Shikar’ in which one Umesh Aggrawal was arrested on October 2. Suspected to be the kingpin of the illegal ivory trade India, Aggarwal was the main buyer of ivory and maker of various artefacts. During the entire operation, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and its international partner International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) provided technical and field support to the investigating agencies. 

With so many arrests, the Kerala Forest Department have broken the back of elephant poaching in southern India. However, more arrests are not being ruled out in what can be considered as the biggest operation launched by the Kerala Forest Department against elephant poaching in the state. 

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Delicately carved ivory articles seized
Delicately carved ivory articles seized

A tip off from an ex elephant poacher in July and former forest watcher, led to an investigation by the Kerala Forest Department (KFD) in association with WTI’s Enforcement Team. He claimed that a gang of elephant poachers had camped out in Kerala’s verdant forests and had killed more than 20 elephants in a period of just 10 months.

Special software allowed the KFD and WTI’s Enforcement Team to track connections between suspected poachers through their call records. After many tedious hours of work, enough information had been collected to make the first arrests.

Over 30 people were arrested with respect to ivory poaching with over 40 elephants believed to have been killed in the past year alone.

In October, after more months of intelligence gathering, the team had their biggest breakthrough yet .In a carefully planned operation, a kingpin of the ivory trade was apprehended by a team comprising the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) and Kerala forest officials with assistance from WTI staff during an early morning operation in Delhi.

The trader arrested was a well to do businessman dealing in art and collectibles was operating his business from a three storied house in a posh locality of Delhi. A fully equipped carving unit was operational at the basement of his house where the authorities suspected the artisans turned ivory into high valued ivory articles to be exported. The suspect confessed his involvement in the illegal trade of ivory from the 90s. He used his company ‘Art of India’ which dealt in various artefacts from India to other countries and mixed ivory and ivory articles along with sandstone and resin statues to avoid detection. He also openly manufactured and displayed articles which looked and felt like ivory in various art exhibitions to attract customers for genuine ivory products. His involvement in preparation of fake ownership certificates for ivory goods is also under investigation. From the initial assessment and findings it is clear that he was purchasing ivory from most of the elephant bearing areas across India.

Less than ten days later, another covert operation led to the seizure of 487kg of ivory. The entire examination of goods lasted for 12 hours as each item was examined and packed. The team also managed to recover some documents and pen drives which will be investigated.

The trader’s highly paid lawyers are working to get him released on bail and WTI’s team will also be providing the best possible legal assistance to the Kerala Forest Department in order to ensure pro-conservation judgments in this case.

Entire tusks are often on sale
Entire tusks are often on sale
Articles seized were measured before cataloguing
Articles seized were measured before cataloguing
Raw ivory was also seized
Raw ivory was also seized

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Organization Information

Wildlife Trust of India

Location: Noida, Uttar Pradesh - India
Website:
Project Leader:
Sahil Choksi
Noida, Uttar Pradesh India
$33,087 raised of $50,000 goal
 
521 donations
$16,913 to go
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