Three mahouts of Guruvayur Devaswom board have been arrested in Thrissur by forest officials for allegedly attempting ivory trade near the elephant yard.
The accused have been identified as Ganeshkumar, PK Preman and Ushakumar. Forest officials confirmed that all mahouts are under the Devaswom, reports the Times of India.
Ganeshkumar has been identified as the mahout of the elephant Guruvayur Valiya Padmanabhan, Preman and Ushakumar that of Guruvayur Valiaya Madhavankutty and Guruvayur Murali respectively.
According to G Prasad, divisional forest officer of vigilance squad (Ernakulam and Thrissur), six pieces of ivory weighing approximately 6kg were recovered from the men.
The officials have also confirmed that a bike has been seized from the accused.
Preliminary investigation by the officials has revealed that the tusk pieces were bought from a trader in Kollam district, by the name of Shaji Puthankulam, for Rs 23,000.
Officials added that the accused appeared to be part of a racket engaged in ivory trade.
Police suspects that all the accused were stocking ivory pieces for sale during the trimming process of the tusks.
According to the Wildlife Protection Act, the tusk pieces should be handed over to the forest officials after trimming.
Forest officials had been following the activities of the mahouts for a period of time.
The accused were produced before Chavakkad judicial first class magistrate.
In August, two ivory tusks had been seized from a house in Mavoor, Kozhikode and two persons were arrested.
Officials also recovered two currency counting machines from the accused.
A team of officials made the seizure following a tip-off and also took a father-son duo into custody.
As per a Hindustan Times report in July 2015, ivory-seeking poachers on the prowl had killed at least 10 wild elephants in the state in the preceding 10 months.