By Amit S. Upadhye
Bengaluru: Forest officials from the M.M. Hills Wildlife Sanctuary have launched a manhunt, which is being described as the biggest since the death of forest brigand Veerappan in 2004.
For the last one week, nearly 50 forest officials, including men from the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF), are hunting for a poacher, Sharavana, who has been on the prowl in the forests of M.M. Hills and neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
A native of Govindapadi village in Tamil Nadu, Sharavana, aged between 45 and 50, has become a big headache to forest officials. He is known to move around in the forests in the night with his gang of around 20 men, 10 dogs and dozens of muzzle-loading guns.
Last month, forest officials, who came across the gang, fired a few rounds at the bargainds, but they managed to escape along with Sharavana.
Though some blood stains were found, forest officials could not trace anyone. Soon after the incident, Sharavana mobilised more men and weapons and took over the forest check-post in Palar. He called the forest officials dogs and challenged them to nab him.
A week after the firing incident, forest officials from M.M. Hills managed to catch two poachers and recovered a pair of elephant tusks. The arrested confessed that they were working for Sharavana who targeted elephants in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu forests.
The forest officials with the help of STPF men have launched a massive manhunt in the forests between Palar and Gopinatham, the birthplace of Veerappan.