By Priyangi Agarwal
BAREILLY: A joint team of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) New Delhi, Pilibhit forest department and special task force has arrested eight poachers here, including six on Sunday, and recovered tiger bones, teeth and parts from them. Efforts are on to trace four of their accomplices still on the run.
The arrests came days after two poachers from Uttar Pradesh were arrested in Nepal recently with 37 kg of tiger bones and skin. The two had confessed to have poached tigers in Pilibhit.
Kailesh Prakash, divisional forest officer, Plilibhit tiger reserve (PTR), said, "They (Nepal police) told us that the poachers had killed two adult tigers in November and December 2013 in Barahi range of PTR. The poachers had used poisoned buffalo meat as bait to trap the tigers."
The forest authorities have lodged a case against the arrested under various relevant sections of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Those arrested have been identified as Chiraungi, Om Prakash, Gangaram, Natae Gaen, Ravindra, Omprakash Baba, Nausey and Asgar Shah. All have been sent to jail.
Acting on the information, the joint team arrested six poachers in Pilibhit on Sunday and recovered sizeable quantity of tiger bones, teeth and body parts from them. Earlier on Saturday, two poachers were arrested and 5 kg of tiger bones, teeth and antlers of swamp deer were seized from them.
According to forest authorities, four other poachers — Kandhai Lal, Rakesh, Shree Krishna and Shyamlal — are on the run.
"Only after arresting Rakesh, considered to be the kingpin of the gang, we will be able to gauge the actual position. Rakesh would be able to inform us about the total number of poachers involved as well as their previous crimes," the DFO told TOI.
Chief conservator of forest, Bareilly and Moradabad zone, MP Singh said, "We have become more vigilant to stop the occurrence of poaching of animals in future. Strict action will be taken against forest officials, including the DFO and conservator, if such incidents happen again."
In the tiger census report 2014, Pilibhit tiger reserve is the only part of UP's protected area to have shown "improvement". In 2011, 35 to 40 tigers were counted at the place. But high human interference and proximity to Nepal makes it most unsafe for big cats.
Pilibhit has seen worst crime against tigers. In May 2012, two tigers were poisoned in Pilibhit within 24 hours. The culprits were later nabbed. In February 2009, a young tigress was shot down by forest department in Faizabad. The big cat had strayed out of Pilibhit forests and had turned a man-eater.