LUCKNOW: A gang of eight poachers was held from forest range in Pilibhit district in an operation lasting 48 hours. Tiger bones, teeth and meat were recovered from the gang members who had been active in Pilibhit Tiger Reserve for the past 15 months. As some strong leads about international smugglers have surfaced, UP STF has decided to coordinate with wildlife enforcement agencies of South Asian countries.
The crackdowns on Friday and Saturday were made following inputs gathered from two UP residents arrested by Nepal police in the past 10 days. Sleuths were startled to find out during questioning the duo that China-based middlemen were offering over Rs 20 lakh to wildlife poachers and smugglers based out of Nepal. Subsequently, New Delhi-based Wildlife Crime Control Bureau was alerted.
The eight men arrested were from various parts of Pilibhit district and Natae Gaen was identified as the kingpin of the Indian leg of the nexus. Resident of Madhav Tanda area in Pilibhit, Gain remained in touch with Nepalese gangs who were part of the international illegal wildlife trade. Gain used to get Rs 7 to 10 lakh for tiger hide, teeth, nails etc of dead tigers in Nepal.
"As international links came to the fore after series of arrests were made, we have decided to seek help of South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network which has its headquarters in Kathmandu. Besides India, seven more countries are members of the law enforcement network," said STF additional superintendent Arvind Chaturvedi who is overseeing the probe and working with forest department to curb poaching.
The various teams working on the case feel that at least five tigers have been killed by the gang in just Pilibhit district in past 15 months. "They might have killed twice the number in reality and we have asked forest department to confirm the last known and present count," added Chaturvedi.
10kg tiger bone and 17kg decayed tiger flesh buried in compartment 72 of Barahi forest was recovered. Two tiger teeth have also been found, besides cell phone being used by the gang members.