Tusker's tragedy

Published: Monday 15 April 1996

IVORY smugglers are having a field day in the famed Simlipal National Park in Mayurbhanj district of Orissa, despite the ban on ivory trade. Poachers are on an elephant killing spree, while park officials have chosen to turn a blind eye to their illegal activities. Recently, the forest officials found tw:o carcasses of male elephants, one at Bhanjabasa in the core area and another at Talabandha in the heavily-guarded Project Tiger area.

Apparently, there is a well-planned network of poachers, tribals and officials operating in the park. The hunters trap the elephants by spreading nets made of nails tipped with poison. The elephant dies a slow and painful death after a few days. The poachers pocket a major share of the earnings while the tribals are paid a meagre sum. one kg of ivory sells for Rs 5,000 and an average- sized tusk weighs 10 kg.

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