Matchbox did poachers in
Times of India
Ahmedabad: It was a matchbox found from the scene of crime that led to the arrest of 20 accused involved in poaching of Asiatic lions. About eight lions were poached in Junagadh and Bhavnagar district in March and April last year. Talking to reporters, investigating officer and inspector general of police Keshav Kumar and principal chief conservator of forest Pradeep Khanna said during probe, police officials found a matchbox from the crime spot.
Detailed investigation revealed that this brand of match was available only in Madhya Pradesh. The Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) authorities were contacted and it was found that the accused belonged to Behaliya tribe from Madhya Pradesh. Based on information and discription given by WPSI, a combing operation was launched and the culprits were caught. During interrogation, a fresh claw of lion was found from their possession. When they were further grilled, a shirt was recovered which had stains of blood on it. The Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) confirmed that it was lion blood.
Further, when the hands of the accused were washed, some blood in their nails was also traced. Analysis revealed that this was also blood of Asiatic lions. FSL director JM Vyas said the spear which was found from them also had lion blood. He added that the modus operandi was simple a trap was laid and once the animal fell into it, a spear with methyl parathion was inserted in its mouth, killing the lion. The bones were then taken away and sold in the international market. Kumar further said that the bones of lion and tiger were similar and hence they were not easily distinguishable. With no tigers around, lion bones were sold in the market.
Bones of one lion was estimated to be around Rs 50 lakh in the international market. Khanna said that apart from taking other measures like procuring latest equipment, the forest department had also organised women sabhas which had helped it to get feedback from people and also entailed peoples participation. He said there were two convictions in less then 15 days.
After going through the judgment, the officials would take a legal opinion and appeal for enhancing the sentence, which was just three years, he pointed out. BOX Prabhakar is lynchpin of trafficking racket Notorious poacher from Karnataka Prabhakar Keshav Gajakosh (50), who was sentenced to three years imprisonment by a Junagadh court, along with 19 others, for his involvement in the killing of seven Gir lions, is a lynchpin of an international network of wildlife traffickers. Closely linked with Sansar Chand, the notorious Madhya Pradesh poacher, Prabhakar was on the run since 2000. He had been evading arrest in several cases, including one related to the laying of a jaw-trap for capturing a royal Bengal tiger in Nagarahole National Park. Prabhakar was picked up from his Haliyal residence in Uttara Kannada district on December 13, 2007. The Karnataka CID forest cell and Gujarat police also recovered skins of a tiger, 21 leopards and 43 otters from his place. Besides, several passports were recovered from him.