Elephant Trunk Meat Is Tastiest, Assam Tribals Unleash Horror Hunt

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Guwahati: Forest officials and wildlife activists are concerned with the rampant reports of elephant meat consumption in the North-Eastern part of India, specially in parts Assam and Arunachal Pradesh

On May 1, the mutilated carcass of a wild elephant was discovered at Ahutoli village in the eastern state’s Nagaon district, some 130 km from capital Guwahati.

While the tusks being missing is a usual sight, a 7 foot long bloodied trunk was chopped off and was lying some distance away much to everyone’s shock. Senior wildlife officers refused to confirm that the incident points to ‘meat consumption’

Local folklore in the Karbi Anglong Hills, where the incident occurred, is said to claim that the ‘trunk is the tastiest part of the jumbo’s body.’ Some members of the residing tribal communities here, including Karbi, Garo, Dimasa, Adivasis, are known to indulge in this wild meat. Several cases have also come to the fore where elephant bodies have been found bereft of the trunk , tail and even ‘stripped of all flesh and reduced to bones’.

Elephants are often hounded and killed for ivory and also when they wander into human settlements, damaging crops and homes.

Senior wildlife officers refused to confirm that the May 1 Nagaon incident points to ‘meat consumption,’ but other experts expressed fears that the ‘newly acquired taste’ could lead to a spurt in elephant poaching.

India only has about 30,000 elephants left in its forests and reserves, and the huge animal enjoys the highest Schedule 1 species status under the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972 besides declared endangered by global body, IUCN.

‘Our local intelligence told us that when the tribals come down to the plains for weekly bazaar sales and purchases they sell the jumbo meat by various names and have developed a taste for it.’

The trunk is apparently the tastiest part to eat, said Dr Zahan Ahmed, veterinarian with the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).  Elephant meat, however, is a well-known delicacy in some Southeast Asian countries and African nations like Cameroon and Congo.

The Indian elephant is native to India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Malay Peninsula, Laos, China, Cambodia, and Vietnam .

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Assam has a population of  5,000-6,000 elephants, though 300 have been lost in the last 10 years.

District forest officer of Nagaon Subhashish Das said, ‘The fact of the matter is that it was lying in a pond. We were arranging for a veterinarian from Kaziranga and a tranquiliser, and we could not keep it in the public till that time.

‘Unfortunately, it was found dead in those circumstances. The postmortem report has found arrow heads lodged in its body. However, we have no proof until now that it was killed for meat.’