Guwahati: An elephant was killed after forest personnel and suspected logwood smugglers from Arunachal Pradesh exchanged fire inside the Dehing Patkai National Park on Thursday, officials said.
As a result of a tip-off, forest personnel from Hukanjuri and Kathalguri beats of Dibrugarh forest division in Assam were out on night patrol in Basabnala area of the park. During patrols, they spotted a group of timber smugglers illegally felling trees. When the smugglers saw the forest personnel, they opened fire. After a gunfight ensued, the smugglers managed to escape in the cover of darkness, officials said.
On Tuesday, the patrolling staff returned to the spot and found a carcass of a female elephant, aged about 18. The team also spotted nine tree stumps and 35 pieces of logs. ‘The circumstantial evidence points to the fact that the elephant was used to drag logs by the accused,’ said a forest official.
According to the evidence gathered, the smugglers entered the park from the Arunachal Pradesh side, he said. The post-mortem revealed the elephant had three bullet wounds, he added. A police investigation is underway, and efforts are being made to catch those responsible for the incident, according to the official.
According to him, a case has been filed at the Jeypore police station under various sections of the Wildlife Protection Act.
The Dehing-Patkai rain forest, spread across the districts of Tinsukia and Dibrugarh, was proclaimed India’s seventh national park in June of this year.