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Uttaranchal  revisits nightmare: 2 Rajaji elephants are killed  - AJAY SURI

The disturbing story of Corbett  National Park is now being repeated in the adjoining Rajaji Park with a similar script and possibly the same actors. Two young elephants have been found dead in a corner of the Park, their missing tusks completing the tell-tale picture.

File Photo 
This has struck another blow to the Uttaranchal administration  at a time when it’s trying to forget the killing of five tuskers  in the Corbett early this year as a bad dream. Four platoons  of Provincial Arms Constabulary (PAC) have reached the Park  and, assisted by some 300-odd forest officials of Rajaji, they are combing the region for the ivory hunters. The tuskers of Rajaji met a horrible end near Kunnau, the  forest range close to Rishikesh. Both were apparently poisoned  but did not die immediately. One of the young males dragged  itself on its forelegs for over a kilometre in the thick jungle  before collapsing. The second elephant was found some distance  away and had died earlier. Flanked by Rishikesh and Hardwar on one side and Kotdwar on  the other — all three thickly populated towns — Rajaji makes  the poachers’ escape almost child’s play. Uttaranchal’s chief  wildlife warden A S Negi frankly acknowledges the daunting  task. ‘‘But we will not give up. The immediate task is to  get hold of the poachers before the situation goes out of  hand,’’ he told The Indian Express tonight.
The killings — discovered last evening — has shaken Corbett  Park which has a contiguous forest cover with Rajaji. Corbett’s  field director Digvijay Singh Khati, who came to Dehra Dun  on a weekend forest project, has rushed back and is holding  meetings with top forest and police officials in and around  Corbett.
Negi says the trouble could spill over to Corbett and hence  they were taking no chances. He does not discount the possibility  of stumbling into more carcasses since like Corbett, Rajaji’s  terrain too is equally treacherous with the thickly-wooded  Shivalik hills, winding river-beds and dark ravines as its 
main features. 

More than the poisoning — the standard method to do away with wild pachyderms throughout India — it’s the manner of pulling  out the tusks from the Rajaji elephants which has disturbed  the forest authorities. The two pairs of tusks, it is learnt,  were simply axed. Rajaji officials say the method, though seemingly crude, points  at the gang’s professional approach. Tusks of poached Corbett  elephants too were extracted in a similar fashion but there the killers had cut off their trunks as well. It’s because of this difference that Negi feels that the killers in Corbett 
and Rajaji may not be the same.
The state government has announced a reward of Rs 50,000 for anybody providing a clue to the poachers. The move points  to both hope and desperation, more so when the reward money  of Rs 1 lakh announced for the dead Corbett elephants remains  unclaimed.

Read the previous News Article 



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