Coimbatore

Kerala-based middleman arrested in elephant poaching cases

He had allegedly trafficked around 300 kg of ivory from Tamil Nadu

The Forest Department, which is currently investigating past incidents of elephant poaching in Coimbatore Forest Division, arrested Babu Jose (40) for his alleged role in the hunting of two wild elephants in Sirumugai forest range in 2011.

Jose, a native of Udumbanchola in Idukki district, was arrested on Wednesday. He was remanded in judicial custody in Coimbatore Central Prison where two poachers he had allegedly employed P. Singam (45) and P. Kubendran (45) from Andipatti of Theni district, are also lodged.

According to Forest Department officials, Singam and Kubendran poached two tuskers in Sirumugai range in 2011 on the instructions of Jose, who later bought the tusks. Jose allegedly sold the tusks to Aji Bright in Kerala.

Singam and Kubendran were also involved in two other wildlife crimes in Sirumugai - a hunting attempt case in which they were convicted along with two others in March this year, and a second one for poaching an elephant, the trial of which is under way. Jose was also the buyer in the second case, according to Forest Department.

Officials said that this was the fourth case registered against Jose in Coimbatore Forest Division. He was arrested by the Forest Department in September this year in connection with the poaching of a tusker by Singam and Kubendran from a forest area of Mettupalayam range in 2011.

The Forest Department has already moved the court seeking the custody of the three persons for further interrogation in the poaching cases. The court is scheduled to hear the plea and give orders on Monday.

A per statements of nine persons (including Kubendran, Singan and Jose) arrested in a wildlife crime at Vallakadavu forest range of Periyar Tiger Reserve in 2015, Jose allegedly trafficked around 300 kg of ivory from Tamil Nadu and sold to Aji Bright.

Based on the statements of the accused in Vallakadavu case, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) sent a letter to Coimbatore District Forest Officer D. Venkatesh in September this year to revisit the entire elephant poaching cases in Coimbatore Forest Division. The letter said that Aji Bright must be included as the first accused, Jose as second accused, Singam and Kubendran as third and fourth accused.

The letter also pointed out that Aji Bright’s name was not included in the list of accused in past cases of elephant poaching though there were l8 cases registered against him by Kerala Forest Department and four criminal cases by Kerala Police.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 3:41:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/kerala-based-middleman-arrested-in-elephant-poaching-cases/article29912940.ece

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