Animal activists hit streets

People hit Sonari streets to protest killing of elephant
Dibrugarh, Feb 28 : Animal lovers and activists today took to the streets of Sonari in Sivasagar and burnt effigies of forest minister Rockybul Hussain to protest the brutal killing of a pregnant elephant near Abhayapur reserve forest on Wednesday night.
Villagers living on the edge of Abhayapur reserve forest found the carcass of the elephant yesterday, with its tail, tip of the trunk and an ear chopped off.
Led by the Assam Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad (AJYCP), nearly a hundred people shouted slogans against the Tarun Gogoi-led government for failing to protect animals.
They accused the government of failing to control, “poaching and timber smuggling” in the reserve forest which shares a 20-km boundary with Nagaland.
“We have been highlighting these issues for quite some time now through various memorandums and applications, but the authorities so far have preferred to keep mum,” said Rabijit Baruah, the president of the Sonari regional unit of the AJYCP.
The forest department, however, was still not sure who killed the elephant.
“If it had been a case of poaching, the poachers would have targeted a tusker in the herd. However, that was not the case. This is why we think that the elephant was not killed by poachers but by some local groups. The investigations have just begun and we will be able to come to a conclusion once the probe is over,” Utpal Bora, the divisional forest officer of Sivasagar, said over telephone.
Bora, who visited the area yesterday, said samples of the animal’s kidney, liver have been sent for forensic tests at the Guwahati-based Forensic Science Laboratory and the report is expected within a week’s time.
“First and foremost, we will have to establish the cause of death. If we find that it was because of poisoning, we have certain people on our list of suspects. We will begin questioning them,” Bora said.
Green groups have also come down heavily on the state government for its failure to protect the state’s greenery and wildlife.
“It is a matter of shame for the state government and the forest department that poaching and timber smuggling continue despite a series of agitation by various organisations. The forest department has hopelessly failed to protect the state’s wildlife,” Soumyadeep Datta, the director of Nature’s Beckon, said.
Datta also demanded an impartial inquiry to probe the elephant killing.