By Vijay Pinjarkar
Here's a chilling fact: Around the time Umred Karhandla was being inaugurated as the state's 48th wildlife sanctuary on May 19 earlier this year, notorious poacher Ajit Chhiyalal Rajgond had set a trap and killed a tiger. Ajit, who was caught near Tirupati on September 26, made the confession to investigating officials. On Wednesday, he was sent to magisterial custody up to October 15.
The tiger that Ajit killed is suspected to be the full-grown male 'Chaitram' which, along with 'Bajrang', has sired several cubs in the protected area (PA) which is just 60kms from the city.
Ajit's confession has taken the tally of tigers killed to 5, a figure the forest department is loathe to up even after TOI reported, quoting another notorious poacher Sarju, that 20 tiger skins have been smuggled out from Kanha-Pench corridor and the forests of Vidarbha in the last 8-9 months by notorious traders like Dalbir, Tellu and Kalla.
Ajit and his brother Keru, who operated in the forests around Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve and were absconding, had supplied two tiger skins to Sarju, alias Surajbhan, in May this year. Acting on a tip-off, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) officials and Andhra Pradesh police jointly trapped Ajit while Keru managed to give them the slip.
Ajit was brought to the city on transit remand and was in forest custody from October 3 to 9. It was while in custody that he confessed to having killed a tiger by laying a steel trap near Tarna Lake in Kuhi range of the sanctuary in the second week of May. A protection hut is located at a walkable distance from the spot.
The poacher was taken to Umred twice for investigations. He showed a water-filled hole where the trap was laid and also the place where tiger meat was disposed of in the sanctuary. More....