By P. Oppili
In a major breakthrough, officials of the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (STR) busted a gang having links to international wildlife trade and arrested 11 persons at Kalmundipuram, a village near Sathyamangalam, on Wednesday.
Following a tip-off, the officials raided a house belonging to one Shivaji in Thadasalahatti village. Another team raided the house of Kumara in Sathyamangalam and that of Muniyandi in Kaundapadi near Andhiyur, Forest Department sources said.
Pangolin scales, elephant tusks, the tooth and claws of carnivores were seized during the raid.
A senior officer said a local politician intervened and tried to create problem for the officials. However, the officials refused to budge, and those secured for interrogation were remanded in custody on Wednesday.
Preliminary investigations revealed that Muniyandi had links with those in international wildlife trade.
Another officer pointed out that the Range Officer of Talavadi, who acted boldly against the offenders, was transferred to appease the local politician, the sources said.
Welcoming the arrest, S. Jayachandran of the Tamil Nadu Green Movement, said the organisation had been following the wildlife offenders for the past seven months and passed on information to the wildlife authorities.
The gang was killing animals in the wild, and their body parts were exported to China through Bangladesh, he said.
A special team needed to be formed to take the probe further, Mr. Jayachandran added.