Friday, February 27, 2009

From timber to tiger skin trade, Gajakosh did it all

From timber to tiger skin trade, Gajakosh did it all
Times of India

AHMEDABAD: It was a prized catch for Karnataka police officials in December 2007 when they lay their hands on Prabhakar Keshav Gajakosh, a notorious  
poacher with national and international links. The arrest was made possible on the basis of information passed on by Gujarat police.

Gajakosh, 52, who is among 16 convicted in Asiatic lion poaching case on Tuesday, was later transferred to Gujarat police for allegedly selling lion remains in international market. Gujarat police officials said that his role was pivotal in infusing confidence in the lion poachers that they would get a good prize for their catch.

Keshav Kumar, the then IG, CID (Crime), who investigated the case, told TOI that the man is actually a link that had made the case a national one.

"Initially, it was thought to be a handiwork of a single gang. However, when the investigation progressed, new names surfaced and the main one was of Gajakosh, a native of Karnataka who used to operate in the jungles of Hubli. He along with other poachers in Uttar Pradesh used to trade the bones and organs in international market," he said.

Gajakosh, a native of Hubli, Karnataka, was a local politician and contractor for forest timber who later switched over to poaching and got in touch with India's oldest known poacher, Abdul Kader Chaudhary, 69, also from Karnataka. The duo is said to have smuggled more than 100 tiger skins outside the country.

When arrested, Gajakosh was found possesssing 23 leopard skins, 3 tiger skins and 20 river otter skins. Gajakosh said to have sold tiger bones for medical purposes to other countries. According to officials, he is a part of bigger nexus spread over Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Karnataka.

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