Three persons engaged as mahouts in the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve have been arrested for capturing and consuming a rare species of a freshwater turtle inside the one-horned rhino habitat.
Officials said there have been complaints about some employees under the Burapahar Range of the 118-year-old Kaziranga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, consuming protected species. A thorough search led them to three mahouts at the Hati (elephant) Camp under the range.
“We found seven spotted pond turtles in the possession of Karna Bawri, Ram Naik, and Sobhan Bawri. The turtles were seized and the three detained under relevant sections of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972,” a range official said.
The three admitted to having caught the turtles from the Jhao Beel (wetland) in the park primarily for consumption. They denied having traded any of these reptiles.
The trio, like all other Forest Department mahouts, had access to the interiors of the park on elephant back.
“Such acts by people duty-bound to protect the denizens of Kaziranga are inexcusable. I have asked the officials to unearth a nexus, if any, and take those involved to task,” Kaziranga’s director, Jatindra Sarma told The Hindu.
“Such acts by people duty-bound to protect the denizens of Kaziranga are inexcusable”Jatindra SarmaDirector, Kaziranga National Park