An alleged poacher arrested by the Rajasthan Forest Department has confessed that he along with his associates had in February shot the tigress ST-5, which was among the first batch of big cats relocated to the Sariska Tiger Reserve from Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in 2010 in an effort to restore the dwindling tiger population.
The tigress had gone missing in February and forest officials were unable to trace it despite massive searches. It was last sighted on February 24.
According to a statement issued by the forest department, the accused Sarfuddin also confessed to poaching sambhars and nilgais from areas under the Sariska Tiger Project. However, senior officials said that the death of ST-5 is not confirmed yet and Sarfuddin’s claims are being investigated.
“During the interrogation of the accused, he has confessed about shooting ST-5 dead along with few other associates in February. He has also said that he received Rs 20,000 for the job,” said a statement by the office of deputy conservator of forest, Sariska Tiger Project.
However, Rajasthan’s chief wildlife warden GV Reddy said, “The accused claimed that he had shot ST-5 dead but at times such claims are also made to mislead forest officials and the probe. We cannot confirm at this point whether the animal is dead. We are investigating his claims and the alleged death of ST-5 can only be confirmed once we receive more evidence.”