Three mahouts held for rhino horn smuggling at KNP (India)

Indian Rhino female with offspring, Kaziranga National Park. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

The Times of India | October 16, 2020

Read the original article here.

JORHAT: Three forest staffers of Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve have been arrested for their involvement in rhino horn smuggling. They were produced before a local court that sent them for to judicial custody for 14 days on Thursday.

The arrested persons were identified as Dilip Karmakar, Robin Bauri and Rajib Karmakar. The trio were working as mahouts (elephant rider) at the Kohora forest range in Kaziranga.

With these, the total number of forest staffers involved with the illegal trade has gone up to six in the past few days. Police also arrested an Assam Forest Protection Force personnel for his involvement with rhino horn trade last week. He was identified as Sashi Dolley and was staying at the park’s Agoratoli forest range. Sashi’s elder brother Ganesh Dolley, an infamous rhino poacher and horn smuggler in Kaziranga, is on the run.

Police had arrested two forest staffers identified as Hobibur Rahman and Ashok Bhuyan during last week of September. Both were working as elephant riders in Kaziranga and sold a rhino horn to one Rameswar Signar of Ingley Pathar village in Karbi Anglong district close to Kaziranga.

Rameswar had handed over the horn to one Mansingh Terang of Diphu in Karbi Anglong, who later sold the horn to a former MLA in Nagaland with the help of two others, identified as Hariram Ingti and Biman Taro. The trio — Rameswar, Hariram and Biman — were social workers and were closely associated with a section of forest staffers in Kaziranga.

A senior park official said, “Rameswar is a renowned social worker and he has a very good relation with the forest staffers in Kaziranga. He helps forest staffs in Kaziranga by providing shelter for man and elephants on duty in his residential campus during floods. Hariram and Biman are also social workers and they were associated with almost all the programmes organized for conservation of wildlife in Kaziranga.”

Police and forest staffers have arrested altogether fifteen rhino horn smugglers in and around the park in the past few days.