Guwahati: Assam's wildlife protection record has never been good. Now it's getting worse, as the plight of an elephant in the state's western part shows.
The elephant is lying in a paddy field in Kharmauza village, five kilometres from Goalpara town on national highway 37. Eyewitnesses say its tusks have been uprooted and trunk chopped off. The tail is missing.
But when NDTV spoke to state Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain, he described it as a case of fighting between two male elephants.
Eyewitnesses say the elephant was poached. Video footage available with NDTV shows the animal is in extreme pain, with its bleeding trunk and tusks gone.
A medical team has been sent. Forest officials have reached the site and treatment has started. An enquiry headed by the Chief Conservator of Forest will be submitted in 24 hours.
This isn't an isolated case. This summer, rhinos at the Kaziranga National Park were attacked in similar ways - some were de-horned while alive and bled to death. The authorities found that automatic weapons were used in the poaching, indicating that militants may have been involved.
An ongoing operation in the nearby Karbi Anglong hills has helped arrest several poachers and establish their link with traders in neighbouring Nagaland and Myanmar.
Wildlife part trade is one of the biggest underworld trades across nations and India's north-east is strategically wedged between countries where this trade flourishes, with its rich diversity of fauna proving to be an ideal source area.