Last September marked a major victory for Wildlife SOS as we had pulled off one of the most challenging and the biggest of our elephant rescues till date. Mohan’s rescue was indeed a roller coaster ride for all of us but all the hard work and support led to his much awaited freedom!
Following the rescue, the Wildlife SOS anti-poaching unit “Forest Watch” had been actively tracking pieces of Mohan’s tusks that were chopped off by his owner Bhupendra Naraian Mishra, who was intending on selling his ivory. After almost 11 months of surveillance our efforts finally paid off and in a daring undercover operation planned in collaboration with the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and the Special Task Force of Uttar Pradesh Police, Mishra was caught red handed with about 5000 grams of elephant ivory and a country made weapon along with bullets.
The operation was led by Dr Aravind Chaturvedi, Addl SP, Special Task Force of Uttar Pradesh Police based on the intelligence passed on by our team and both the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and the STF were in the loop.
Mishra and his wife, who was his accomplice in this heinous crime, were nabbed while transporting the contraband from Pratapgarh to Allahabad. Several teams from Lucknow, Allahabad and Delhi were deployed to make the operation a success. They were immediately arrested and are currently under police custody for further questioning. The SUV vehicle used for transporting the contraband has also been confiscated and the seized ivory has been handed over to the Forest Department.
We are extremely grateful to the Special Task Force of the UP Police and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau for their cooperation in making this a successful operation. Interrogation of the suspects in custody will provide forward and backward linkages.
International and domestic trade in ivory is banned and is a highly punishable offence under Indian law. Killing of an elephant or possession of any ivory items, calls for a minimum of three to seven years of imprisonment. Despite having a strong legal framework that regulates and restricts the flow of wildlife trade, there has been a resurgence of ivory trade in India in recent years.
As a result of Wildlife SOS’s perseverance in seeking justice for Mohan’s torturous 50 years of captivity and abuse as a begging elephant, his owners including the mahout have already been facing legal action because of the illegal possession of the elephant. The arrest of wildlife traffickers like Bhupendra Naraian Mishra is a major breakthrough and will help strengthen the legal deterrence against wildlife crimes.