October 12, 2021 4:05:54 am
A STRING of suspected tiger poaching cases have come to the fore from the region in the last two-and-a-half months, raising alarm among forest officials.
Beginning July 29, seven such cases have been detected by the Maharashtra Forest Department. Most of these tigers had been poached in 2018-19, as per the official data and poachers were caught while they were on their way to sell animal parts to buyers.
The latest case was reported on Sunday with the Nagpur division forest team arresting seven persons from a toll booth on Wardha-Nagpur Road. The accused were allegedly transporting tiger parts for some customers in Nagpur. “The seven persons were carrying two canines and two whiskers of a tiger poached in March 2018 in Umarda forest of Yavatmal district,” said Assistant Conservator of Forests Narendra Chandewar, who led the team that laid the trap to nab the accused.
The first arrests in the latest series of cases was made on July 29 when four people were nabbed for carrying parts of a tiger killed in 2018 in Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh. This was followed by another seizure and arrests on August 25. Over the next four days, two more cases were detected. Subsequently, three more cases were found on September 9, October 8 and October 10.
Besides, two cases of seizure of pangolin parts were also made by Nagpur divisional forest officers on June 16 and August 24. In all, 43 people have been arrested so far in these cases with officials looking for more people, names of whom have surfaced during investigations.
While two each of these tigers were poached in Chandrapur and Nagpur districts, one each was killed in Chhindwara and Yavatmal. The place of poaching of one tiger is still not known.
Poaching cases of so many tigers in quick succession has come to fore after a gap of about seven years. In 2013-14, a huge racket involving professional tiger poachers from Katni in Madhya Pradesh had come to light. It was alleged that over 20 tigers were poached by them. The forest officials had then made a concerted effort to nab the suspected poachers, some of whom included top guns in the illegal business.
In the latest arrests, most of the alleged poachers were found to be locals and not professional poachers unlike those in Katni. “The accused had killed the tiger either by poisoning or by electrocution,” said Chandewar.
Asked how officials could nab so many accused in back-to-back cases in such a short span of time, Chandewar said, “Most of these tigers had been poached in 2018-19. During pandemic, many people lost their livelihood and may not have anything left to fall back on. This might have resulted in distress sale (of animal parts).”
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