Friday, January 25, 2008

Karnataka squad hunts for poacher who kills 6 leopards in 12 hours


Karnataka squad hunts for poacher who kills 6 leopards in 12 hours

Times of India Ahmedabad Edition

Bangalore: He would taka a puppy deep into the forest, slit its ears and put salt or lime on the wound. Leaving the howling pup on the ground,he’d take up position to shoot the big cats that came preying.

One day, in less than 12 hours, notorious poacher Durra (21) shot six adult leopards using his ‘puppy bait’. A special squad of CID forest cell has been sent to Madhya Pradesh to nab Durra, a Katni tribe member staying in Birahuli village in Rithi police limits, for leopard poaching in Haliyal and Dandeli, Karnataka.

The inter-state link in poaching came to light after the CID forest cell took over a wildlife trading case in Haliyal and interrogated the main accused, Prabhakar Keshav Dajakosh. He spilled the beans about links between poachers and traders in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, maharastra and Gujarat.

Durra is also wanted by the Gujarat and MP police for his involvement in Gir lion poaching as well as killngtigers and leopards in Madhya Pradesh. Last month, the state CID forest cell sleuths arrested four people in Haliyal and Old Hubli to recover 43 otter pelts, one tiger pelt and 23 leopard pelts.

“The missing links in the recent recovery of pelts and poaching of big cats across the country will be established once Durra is arrested. Preliminary investigation showed international links in the wildlife trade,” forest cell IGP K S N Chikkerur said.

It’s the first time that otter skins have been recovered in such a large quantity in the state. Otters are largely found at the Cauvery basin and poached for their pelt to make coats in the Himalayan regions.

An otter poached in Karnataka would soon reach Kashmir and then even Nepal and China.

While tiger and leopard pelts are in great demand, the demand for sloth bear skin and its vital organs has gone up tremendously in the past few years.

“Leopard skin is in great demand. They are often smuggled to Tibet and China through Nepal. An inter-state gang is operating in collusion with international traders and it could wipe out the wildlife here systematically,” the officer added.

Fortunately, Karnataka is the only state where the cases in wildlife crime have more than 50% detection rate.

“One cannot rest on statistics. The big cats from South India are largely preferred by poachers for their unique colour combinations. Tigers or leopards in South Indian habitats are much beautiful than their counterparts from the deserts or snowy region,” explained Chikkerur.

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