The Indian police have recently thwarted what they believe is a transnational elephant smuggling ring. It happens to be a new threat to one of the nation's most iconic animals. According to police officers in Assam, five people were arrested and three elephants were rescued including two calves. The animals were bound to be illegally transported across the country and even abroad via trucks. During the raid, documents were gathered which suggested that the ring may have been responsible for smuggling nearly hundred elephants over the past five years. It was previously thought that transporting one elephant would require an extensive documentation process, along with a chief wildlife officer's permission. However, in this case, the elephants had been smuggled in the same way as humans, with fake documents prepared and bribes paid to officials.
The raid was a result of contact by a local wildlife group called the Green Heart Nature Club. According to the group's director, Bablu Dey, the ring was thought to be responsible for smuggling at least 92 elephants. The animals were captured across the northeast, and brought to Assam. The group also believed that the elephants were kept in remote villages before being smuggled. Mr. Dey further added that the illegal operation was being driven chiefly by wealthy businessmen in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar who wanted to keep the animals as symbols of status. He also stated that there was evidence the animals were being smuggled beyond India's borders, with some to Nepal and Burma. P.K Dutta, police superintendent in Assam's Kokhrajar district, had a different theory. He believed that the ring may have been smuggling as many as ten elephants when it was busted. He further added that the smugglers trained the animals for a year or two after capturing them, and claimed that they were the offspring of Assam's many domestic animals.
It's very interesting to hear about two different theories, but it is not known which is true. I personally find Mr. Dey's theory very gripping because it gives an idea about the driving force of this illegal elephant smuggling ring. It turns out to be wealthy businessmen, who wanted to keep these animals as status symbols. It is also interesting to see that the documents uncovered during the raid showed that the elephants were being smuggled in the same way as people. However, it is easy to say that the ring is a result of devastating the animals' population in the nation. I personally think that if this wildlife group and the police work together, then maybe it will result in knowing the real story behind the smuggling ring.
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