For the state forest officials, who are still not ready to concede that poachers have taken away 20 tigers from Vidarbha and Pench-Kanha corridor, revelations by Sarju Bagdi, the arrested tiger skin trader from Haryana, that others like him had trafficked 13 skins should come as an eyeopener.
A member of team interrogating Sarju has revealed that the trader gave figure of 13 skins have been smuggled from the region. Trafficking of even more skins might be revealed after arrests of other traders like Dalbir and Kalla and poachers who supplied these skins. Since Day 1, forest officials have been admitting to poaching of only five tigers. It could not be confirmed whether officials are taking the figures revealed by Sarju on record.
Meanwhile, the two-member team which had been to Delhi to take custody of Naresh Lala, an accomplice of Sarju, return empty-handed. Delhi Police sources said due to technical reasons Lala could not be handed over to Nagpur officials. They said now he would be brought to Nagpur by Tihar jail officials as he is in magisterial custody.
TOI from Bhopal reports that on January 12, 2013, Nepal Police had confiscated five tiger hides and seven sacks full of tiger bones from Nuwakot district while they were being taken to Tibet from Kathmandu via Rasuwa in a mini-truck. The truck owner, Suk Bahadur Tamang of Chilime-4, and the driver Nakul Tamang of Gatlang-5 in Rasuwa were arrested. During initial interrogation, they revealed that the skins and bones were being transported to Chinese border passing through Langtang National Park.
Thereafter, multiple raids were carried out in Kathmandu to arrest kingpin of the racket but he managed to escape. During raids at his house, police seized 22 pieces of tiger and leopard skins including some embedded in garments, various items made out of ivory, over 100 canine teeth, four human skulls, and cash amounting to about Rs40 lakh and 4,800 Chinese Yuan.
Sources said of the five skins seized, one is said to be from MP Pench while source of others remains to be found out. Sarju had procured skins during April and May this year. The gravity of number of tigers poached can be ascertained from these facts.