By Rhishja Cota-Larson
Forest officials at Biligiri Ranganathittu Tiger (BRT) Reserve have apprehended six tiger traffickers — including one woman — believed to be from Haryana in Northern India. Five skinning knives and three steel jaw traps were recovered from the gang, who were identified by the Deccan Herald as Jagadish, Jalarsingh, Lakumchand, Rothas, Bimal Devi and Pappu, residents of Suduri village in the Panchkula district.
In addition, a booklet containing telephone numbers was confiscated; the suspects were not carrying mobile phones.
One of the suspects reportedly told forest officials that the traps are activated at night.
Once a tiger is caught in the jaw trap, we pierce its eyes with a sharp object and later smash its head with a stick.
Security in BRT Reserve was stepped up after forest guards discovered traps at Gundal reservoir in the tiger reserve.
The penalty for crimes committed inside the core area of a tiger reserve starts with a mandatory prison term of three years, with a maximum of seven years, plus a Rs. 50,000 (US $896) fine up to Rs. 2 lakhs (US $3,586).
A second conviction warrants at least seven years imprisonment, with a fine of Rs. 5 lakhs (US $8,940) up to Rs. 50 lakhs (US $89,597).
Unfortunately, the penalties are rarely enforced.
According to the Wildlife Protection Society of India‘s wildlife crime database of more than 900 tiger-related court cases, only 61 people have been convicted for killing a tiger or trading in tiger parts.
Most of the cases are still pending.
Meanwhile, China continues to keep tiger traffickers in business.