Kerala Forest department officials arrested five persons on Tuesday for attempting to sell two elephant tusks worth Rs 40 lakh at an apartment in Tripunithura.
Forest department officials with the Perumbavoor flying squad seized the two elephant tusks weighing 1.046 kg and 1.226 kg each from the five youths, who were attempting to sell them to international brokers for Rs 1 crore, say officials.
The accused, Roshan Ramkumar (29) of Tripunithura, Shebin Sasi (28) of Eroor, Midhun TM (26) of Irinjalakuda, Sanoj TA (30), of Paravoor and Shemeer KR (36) of Chendamangalam, have all been taken into custody.
The officers from the forest flying squad posed as prospective buyers and contacted the gang based on a tip-off from the intelligence wing of the Forest department.
Upon questioning Roshan, from whose apartment the two tusks were recovered, he claimed to have received them from his late father, an NRI. One of the two tusks was found to have been half-sculpted, while knives for the sculpting and a currency counting machine were also recovered.
The Forest department officials are yet to confirm Roshan’s claims. The tusks will be sent for scientific test to determine their age.
The Kodanad forest range officers have taken custody of the five accused, said PA Jaleel, range officer with the Perumbavoor flying squad to ToI.
The Forest department has registered cases against all five accused under section 39 that deals with the protection of wild animals and section 40 that bans the possession and sale of elephant and other animal parts under the Kerala Wildlife Protection Act. The accused will be presented before the court on Wednesday after their statements are recorded.
This is the second such prospective sale of elephant tusks nabbed by officials within a month. Earlier on January 6, officials recovered two elephant tusks from 45-year-old Santosh who had cut the tusks from an elephant that died due to electrocution.