Wildlife & Biodiversity

Elephant tusks seized, four arrested in Bihar

The prime accused repeatedly claimed that he was the proud owner of two captive elephants that died four years ago and that their tusks were kept at his hospital

By Mohd Imran Khan
Published: Wednesday 23 June 2021
A tusker being displayed at the Sonepur fair in Bihar. Photo: Shubhobroto Ghosh

A joint team of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and Bihar forest department officials seized 35 kilograms of elephant tusks and arrested four people including a doctor in Patna June 22, 2021 forest department officials said here.

The joint team raided the private Chirayu hospital under Agamkuan police station June 22 and seized elephant tusks. The team also arrested four people under different sections of the Indian Penal Code and Section 51 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.

Jyoti Kumar, who is also Vaishali district president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), his driver and two staff of the hospital were later produced before a local court and sent to juidicial custody.

Ruchi Singh, Patna divisional forest officer told this reporter that the four were arrested for “illegal possession” of elephant tusks. “We initially interrogated them soon after they were arrested and would plead the court to take them on remand in connection with investigation into the case,” she said.

Singh added that the private hospital was raided following a tip-off from intelligence that elephant tusks were being smuggled from there.

According to Singh, Kumar had repeatedly claimed that he was the proud owner of two captive elephants that died four years ago and that their tusks were kept at his hospital.

She said:

But when we demanded evidence related to it, Kumar failed to produce any. He could not present a licence for captive elephants. When we asked him for the post-modern report of his captive elephants, he had nothing to show. All this strengthened the case of illegal possession.

However, according to reports, Kumar, who belongs to a landed farmer family, was known to be the owner of a captive elephant at his native village under Jandaha block in Vaishali. He used to regularly visit Assam.

There are, in fact, several rich people in rural Bihar who own captive elephants. This was revealed by Akhtar Imam, founder of Asian Elephant Rehabilitation and Wildlife Animal Trust.

He said there were more than two dozen captive elephants owned by individuals including politicians,in Bihar. He added:

The number of captive elephants has reduced in the state in recent years after the government first banned the sale of elephants at the famous annual Sonepur cattle fair followed by bans on the display of elephants.

There were 59 elephants in the custody of private persons in Bihar nearly three years ago. This is according to the first survey of elephants in captivity, which was part of an affidavit the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change submitted to the Supreme Court.

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