Caught in gunfight between smugglers and forest guards, elephant killed in Dehing Patkai National Park

By PTI
GUWAHATI: A female elephant was killed in an exchange of fire between forest personnel and suspected logwood smugglers from Arunachal Pradesh inside the Dehing Patkai National Park, officials said on Thursday.

Acting on a tip-off, the forest personnel of Hukanjuri and Kathalguri beats in Jeypore Range of Dibrugarh forest division in Assam was out on night patrol in Basabnala area of the park, they said.

During patrolling, they spotted a group of timber smugglers busy in illegal felling of trees.

On noticing the forest personnel, the smugglers opened fire.

A gunfight ensued and after some time, the smugglers managed to escape in the cover of darkness, officials said.

The patrolling staff visited the spot the next day, Tuesday, and detected a carcass of a female elephant, aged about 18, they said.

The team also detected nine tree stumps and 35 pieces of log in the area.

“The circumstantial evidence is a pointer to the fact that the elephant was used for dragging logs by the miscreants,” said a forest official.

From the evidence gathered, it was further ascertained that the smugglers entered the park from the Arunachal Pradesh side, he said.

The post-mortem found the elephant had three bullet injuries, he added.

An investigation is underway and efforts are continuing to nab those behind the incident, the official said.

A case has been registered at the Jeypore police station under various sections of the Wildlife Protection Act, he said.

The Dehing-Patkai rain forest, spread over Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts, was notified as the seventh national park of the state in June this year.