25-04-2012March-April 07 Poaching Incidence
Three lion bodies were found on 3rd March in Babariya range in Gir East. Three more were found on 30th March at Popatdi ness which is at a distance of 6- 7 km from the place of first incidence. But two more found on 14th April were at Bhavnagar district which is at a distance of 100 Km from Gir!! Total 8 lions were poached.
In all the three incidences exactly the same modus operandi of killing was used. First animals were caught by traps and then killed by inserting poisonous spears. Once the animals were dead poachers professionally (brutally!) cut the bodies, boiled the body parts in hot water and buried them inside the land for few days to separate flesh from the bones. They preserved claws in salt water.
Poachers had hidden traps and cleaned body parts like bones, skin, and claws (that were not sent away) in an underground hall which was accessed from main person's tent. The access is in the form of a small tunnel (similar to a mouse burrow) below the floor carpet. The main boss would put his hands through this tunnel and get the things when needed. This is what Police found while digging the river bed in Una where the gangs had lodged.
Arrested MP poachers are in big numbers (29- 30) with women (including pregnant women) and children. They tried to camouflage by selling balloons, toys etc. When caught, they tried to act as poor to gain sympathy. Later police also recovered some costly mobiles with MP State sim card in there.
Above all they bear typical characteristics of Katni poachers of Bahiliyas community and that is what exactly investigating officials have found out. Now let us also look at some more dangerous characteristics and style of operating of these Katni poachers.
Katni gangs have been found to be involved in poaching throughout India. Basically poaching is their bread - butter and survival.
From cases of tiger & other wild animals poaching in MP, Rajasthan and North India, where Bahiliyas are involved, it is learnt that that these gangs strike in many separate groups of 10- 20 each and that too in different areas of jungle. So far in lion poaching case only two separate groups are found and that too 100 km apart from each other. Now it is impossible to have even trace of them as they should have left Gujarat by now.
A Million Dollar question is how many groups were involved and how many areas in our forest did they operate in?
Last poaching incidence was unearthed only after the villagers accidentally found it. At the same few gang members were arrested by coincidence by Bhavnagar Police. The gang was found first and then the mutilated bodies. Gang showed the place of buried remains.
This again poses another pertinent question; how many incidences are still not found nor are unnoticed where gangs have already done their job, buried the remains and escaped?
Past history confirms that where ever Katni Bahiliyas operate or strike, animals are just wiped off within couple of months. Eg. Sariska.
The crucial question is how many of our lions they have killed or what is the total damage?
At the same time, in last couple of years there have been many incidences of natural deaths, deaths due to open well accidents and electrocution.
Taking into consideration all of the above, it was utmost necessary to find out how many of our precious lions have we lost, by conducting a lion census. Forest Department did census but figures are never revealed.
As on 24th Aug 07, all the 39+ front end poachers are in jail and have been rejected bail. Also 'assumed kingpin' Sarkaslal was nabbed from Katni and is in jail. And today two more Anand Minter and Ira Khan, natives of Katni district, were nabbed by a Gujarat Police team. They are caught with some big cat's skin in their possession.
On 23rd two more poachers Anand Minter and Ira Khan allegedly involved in killing at Badigaon village in Katni district in MP were arrested.
Also involvement of Hakki Pikki tribe from Karnataka is expected. The modus operandi of poaching by Hakki Pikki gangs is excately similar to Bahiliya gangs from MP. This came to light when the IG-CID Gujarat, Keshav Kumar gave presentation on investigation with regard to the lion poaching at a workshop conducted by the Karnataka CID (Forest Cell), on 24th Aug 2007.
On 10th Oct 2007 one more Killol Nanka was arrested from MP.
In Jan 2008 on more accused was nabbed from Karnataka. His name is Prabhakar Keshav Gajakosh (50).
On 12-1-2008 19 accused, for the first time in history, they unconditionally withdrew their bail application from the High court. So till the final disposal of the case they are in jail as on today.
11-3-2008 One more accused AK Chaudhary a very close associate of Poaching king Sansar Chand arrested by Karnataka Police from Hyderabad . Guj CID Police were working in association with Karnataka Police with big hope.
23-10-08: Junagadh court convicted all the 21 accused in a case of poaching of six Gir lions and sentenced them to three years imprisonment. It also imposed a penalty of Rs 10,000 each, failing which they will serve additional three months in prison. One convict, Berbai (70), had died during the trial that ran for 18 months.
Details Prepared by
Wildlife Conservation Trust
Rajkot – Gujarat
+91 98240 62062