Thursday, May 17, 2012

Poachers on prowl: Target- 25 tigers!

Poachers on prowl: Target- 25 tigers!

Two poachers of Pardhi and Baheliya communities were detained from Katni on Tuesday in connection with recent poaching attempts at the Palasgaon range of Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra.

A tiger was killed and another severely injured through traps by poachers in the Chandrapur forests.

Five years ago, 37 members of Pardhi community were held for poaching eight lions from Gir national park in Gujarat. Traditional hunting tribes in Katni district are again under scanner.

The suspects are said to be associated with international poaching syndicate that allegedly assigned the tribesmen a contract to kill 25 tigers in India.

The Katni DFO, however, pleaded ignorance about the detention.

Role of a few Bawaria tribesmen in Katni is also been investigated in TATR poaching case, said sources.

On April 28, two tigers were found trapped in jaw traps by a TATR forest guard. He was installing a camera trap near the waterholes in buffer zone. After detection, the forest department foiled the poachers' bid to make way with the teeth, skin and bones of the dead tiger, said sources. The poachers had laid three jaw traps in TATR area. The first was detected on April 26 after a forest guard got his leg stuck in it while installing camera. On April 28, a tiger died caught in the second trap at the edge of the water hole. The other got trapped in the third and suffered critical injuries.

TATR officials and wildlife experts concluded that the poacher's modus operandi was similar to that of Katni-based poachers who were found involved in poaching lions in Gir national park. At least six tigresses have gone missing from the TATR since 2008.

A team of Maharashtra forest officials was dispatched to Katni for preliminary investigation. The reserve officials are on a look out for a close aide of Durra alias Kankalal, a Baheliya of Katni, who was arrested in 2009, said sources. He was wanted by both Gujarat and Karnataka police in poaching 8 lions in Gujarat and seizure of animal skins in Karnataka in 2007. His name first shot into limelight when one Prabhakar Gajkosh, nabbed with 65 skins in Karnataka. In 2007, Durru and his gang had laid five steel traps. Durra is in jail.

Recently, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had issued an advisory to three southern states about the poachers from Katni. In 2008 too, wildlife authorities had termed the Pardhi tribes as number one threat to the country's wildlife population in the wake of poaching of lions in the Gir forests.

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