KOCHI: A massive search operation by forest officials in the Malayattoor division on Friday helped unearth the skeletons of five elephants suspectedly killed by poachers.
Four skeletons were found in the Thundathil range and one was recovered from the Kuttampuzha range, said an official in the search party.
The skeletons are nearly one-year old, he said. “Only a detailed examination of the skeletons will help us find out the gender of these elephants,” he said.
Whether these elephants were killed by poachers or had died due to some other causes will also be known only after a detailed forensic examination.
The search team comprising 400 officials headed by Additional Principle Chief Conservator of Forests (Vigilance) will be combing the nearly 600 sq km of the forest range from Chalakudy to Kuttampuzha in the next three days to find out the remains of elephants killed by poachers.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that around 20-25 elephants were killed in various parts of Kerala forests by a gang of poachers in the recent past.
The forest officials had taken into custody two persons identified as Kunjumon and Reji from Kuttamapuzha recently following a tip-off, said a forest official.
The officials have also identified three other members of the gang-- Aikkaramattom Vasu, Eldos and Suku in the age group of 40-45--who are absconding.
Sources in the forest department said that the gang had inter-state links in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.