Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Seized lion claws fake, say police

Seized lion claws fake, say police
Indian Express

Lion paws and claws seized from two locals on January 8 have turned out to be fake, the Amreli police have said.

The Savarkundla police had seized two paws with nine claws in a sting operation. The operation had hinted at the existence of a lion poaching racket in the Gir sanctuary, the last abode of the Asiatic Lion.

Preliminary examination by the police and forest departments has, however, revealed the items to be fake, but the police are, nevertheless, waiting for the forensic reports.

A police team led by Savarkundla DySP J Thakkar had arrested Allarakha Bhiku (35) and Dhiru Khatrani (32) and seized the lion claws from their possession. Khatrani reportedly told the police that he bought the paws at Rs 600 in Karnataka, where he used to run a food joint until sometime ago.

On Friday evening, the accused had allegedly demanded Rs 2.5 lakh for the nine claws. There were two paws: one with four claws and another with five. As soon as they displayed the items, the police arrested them.

The police and the forest departments were put on an alert following the arrest. No carcass has been found yet, but a fresh poaching cannot be ruled out either, said the police.

Poaching was first reported in Gir in 2004, when as many as nine lions were killed, allegedly by members of a poaching gang from Madhya Pradesh.

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