Is it a tiger skin or dog skin dyed to look like the big cats?
The answer will decide the fate of two men currently in jail for a wildlife crime. If the skin turns out to be that of a dog,they would be booked for the relatively minor offence of cruelty to animals. The case could be quite the opposite otherwise.
While the Seoni police which caught the two men insist the skin seized from Patan village on Saturday is that of a tiger,the forest department is certain its a canines. Both are seeking DNA test by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology,Hyderabad,for verification.
Acting on a tip-off,the police had sent a decoy to purchase a tiger skin from the two persons now under arrest,with a deal being struck for Rs 90,000. Since the seizure was made near the Pench Tiger Reserve,the Forest Department feels the police should have alerted them. The police instead filed an FIR at Kurai Police Station,allegedly with an eye on the cash reward.
Forest rangers R V Solanki and N K Bisen say the skin is very old and completely fake,starting with the very short tail unlike a tigers. They have dyed the skin using chemicals, said Bisen.
However,Special Squad (Seoni) in-charge Vijay Tiwari says: We are experienced enough to tell a tiger skin from a dogs. Its small in size,but we know it belongs to a cub.
He also said that it wasnt mandatory to approach the Forest Department. When we seize forest wood we dont ask them to verify the species.