Tiger poaching in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra seems to be on unabated going by the statements of two young poachers who were nabbed on June 6. The two have told officials that they and some other gangs have killed five tigers in the region in the past three months.
Meanwhile,a tiger was found dead in Hingna range,45 km from here,on Sunday. Samples for forensic tests have been sent,said DFO (Nagpur) P K Mahajan. The number of tigers killed in Vidarbha this year has touched nine,including the one killed in Navegaon National Park,after it killed five women in February.
Badlu (17) and Chiku (20) from traditional poacher community of Hardwa village in Katni,Madhya Pradesh,were arrested from Mansar,Nagpur,by a joint team of police,forest department and Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), an NGO.
The arrest was made based on a tip off to Nagpur IG (rural) that said five tiger skins were to be sold to a buyer from Haryana. The police are now looking for the buyer and have zeroed in on the vehicle that carried the skins,sources said.
The two were taken to a spot in Melghat where they admitted to have killed a tiger. We have found the snare,blood samples and flesh from the spot on East Melghat division border in Paratwada, said DFO (vigilance) P D Masram.
The poachers said one tiger was killed from Tumsar,Bhandara district,and another from Kanha-Pench corridor. They did not know about the other two tigers but WPSI officials said they too were killed from Vidarbha region.
At least two skins were delivered at Umred,45 km from here, said Police Inspector R M Pali. Though the two men claimed to have killed only one tiger,they said others were killed by connected gangs.
WPSI central India director and expert on wildlife crime,Nitin Desai,said the fathers of the two arrested were known poachers. We had been getting alerts since December about a gangs operation in Melghat. A trap to nab them near Mansar had failed then, he said.
With their arrest,it is clear that Melghat has become a tiger poaching hub. It used to be a tiger-deficit area till recently. Over the last two years,tiger numbers have increased in Melghat. Thats why poachers have trained their guns there, Desai said.