Poaching racket busted, four nabbed


They had been operating in MM Hills, BRT Tiger Reserve and Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary

A joint operation by the Forest Department and the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) preceded by year-long planning led to the busting of a poaching racket and one of the biggest seizures of wildlife derivatives in recent years in the State.

The joint operation took place along the border separating MM Hills Wildlife Sanctuary and BRT Tiger Reserve in Chamarajanagar district.

The seizure included four tiger claws, tiger bones, a pair of leopard claws, two deer skin, a pair of sambar skin, skin of two flying squirrels besides bones and skins of dholes. Four persons directly involved in dealing with wildlife derivatives have been taken into custody and a dragnet has been spread to nab the others involved in the crime.

The accused are Mahadev and Kumar of Nellikatari, and Rangaswamy and Mahadeva of Gombegallu, in Hanur taluk of Chamarajanagar district. They were nabbed on Thursday evening. The Forest Department will seek court permission for their custody and interrogation.

V. Yedukondalu, Deputy Conservator of Forests, MM Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, said they were alerted during intelligence gathering from the local community about the possible involvement of the four persons in poaching of wildlife.

“We had information that the gang had been operating in MM Hills, BRT Tiger Reserve and Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary for a few years. They used to skin the poached animal and bury it in the forest only to sell the same to an established contact or potential buyer at a later date. It took us nearly a year to plan and lure the suspects who took the bait and offered to sell the wildlife parts. They were caught red-handed,” said Mr. Yedukondalu.

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He said the team working on the case won the confidence of the four accused and cajoled them to sell the entire stock. The four agreed. When they met at a predetermined place and time, they were taken into custody by Forest Department personnel.

The area was out of bounds for nearly two decades when forest brigand Veerappan was active. But following his death, the forest and the buffer surrounding it is being reclaimed by the Forest Department, which has stepped up anti-poaching activity and intelligence gathering, which has led to an increase in such seizures.

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Sagar Biswas

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