Elephant lands in Rajasthan forest department custody

  • | Sunday | 28th November, 2021

Jaipur, Nov 28 (PTI) A female elephant is in the custody of the Rajasthan forest department after two men were caught for allegedly transporting the animal from Uttar Pradesh to Gujarat without a transit permit, a senior forest official said on Sunday.A local court has directed the forest department to keep the animal in its custody, while remanding the two men to judicial custody on Friday. Former union minister and animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi had written a letter to the state forest minister Hemaram Choudhary on Wednesday last demanding an impartial inquiry into the matter and action against the accused. Officials said that on a tip off, a team of forest department personnel caught the two men identified as Mukut and Phool Singh near Simlawada in Dungarpur district on November 18. Forest authorities produced them in the court of civil judge and judicial magistrate Simalwara, Dungarpur on Friday where the magistrate remanded them to judicial custody and posted the matter for next hearing on November 29.The custody of the elephant is with the forest department.Deputy Conservator of Forest, Dungarpur, Supong Shashi said that two men produced documents when they were stopped in Dungarpur but later it was established that they did not carry a valid transit permit.“The message to us was that an elephant is being smuggled following which we checked documents. They said the elephant has a microchip but it was not initially detected. The elephant owner, who was in touch through telephone, said he can help in detecting the chip. He was allowed following which he sent a chip reader from Jaipur with his staffer and the microchip was detected,” Shashi told PTI.  The officer said that once the chip was detected, it became clear that it was a captive elephant and not a wild one, so the possibility of a wild elephant being smuggled was ruled out. “Once it was clear that it was not a wild animal, we examined the document and it was established that they had no valid transit permit. When we were clear about the offence, we prepared the case under the Wildlife Protection Act and produced the accused in court,” he said.All this while, both the accused remained in the forest range and looked after the elephant.At present, the elephant is under the care of the forest department personnel in Dungarpur on the directions of the court."We have kept the elephant in our range and are taking care of it," he said.  In the letter to Choudhary, Gandhi alleged that the female elephant was being trafficked out of Rajasthan on the basis of forged documents.A vehicle and several weapons to control the elephant like spears and "ankush" (bullhooks) were also seized, she alleged. Gandhi also claimed that three people were arrested but one of them and the seized four-wheeler has been released without taking legal action against the offenders.However, the DCF said there were two persons involved in transporting the elephant and the rest were those who had brought the microchip reader from Jaipur.“The offence was committed by two persons who have been arrested and sent to jail,” the DCF said on Sunday.Gandhi has also raised an objection over allowing the elephant owner to check the elephant with his personal microchip reader.“The chip needs to be verified again in the presence of a government appointed committee with a government microchip reader to be sure,” she said.Gandhi also demanded that a high-level committee be constituted to ensure an impartial probe in the matter.There are no elephants in the forests of Rajasthan. All elephants in the state are in Jaipur and under captivity. They are fitted with a microchip which contains a unique number and other details. The forest department maintains the record of each animal.There are close to 85 elephants in Jaipur and barring four or five, all of them are used in the elephant safari in Amber fort. PTI SDA DV DV

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