By Parth Shastri
AHMEDABAD: Gujarat cadre IPS officer Keshav Kumar whose scientific investigation into the Gir lion poaching case seven years back had led to the conviction of the poachers, has now helped the Maharashtra forest department in nailing three tiger poachers.
In 2007, Kumar, then with CID (Crime), had led a team of investigators in Gir. The team of forensic investigators camped in the forest, collected crucial evidence like DNA samples and blood of lions on the suspects, prepared a watertight case against the poachers who were later jailed.
Kumar, now joint director of CBI in Mumbai, helped the forest department of the neighbouring state to send to jail the tiger poachers of Melghat Tiger Reserve. For this, Kumar got a letter of appreciation from Praveen Pardeshi, principal secretary of the revenue and forest department of Maharashtra, on September 20.
Kumar said that thanks to his experience and interest in wildlife crime forensics, he had conducted trainings and workshops for police, forest and judiciary officials in Maharashtra. "At one programme, officials mentioned that they have suspects in a tiger poaching case but they don't have the corroborative evidence. At this juncture, I told them to collect the samples of their fingernails and dried-up blood from their clothes and send it for DNA test. It was the same method that had helped in the conviction of lion poachers,'' he said.
The method worked as Maharashtra investigators found DNA samples from the fingernails that matched with the tiger skin and flesh seized. Three poachers — Madhusingh Rathod, his brother Chintaram and Vinod Pawar — were sent to prison for five years in June this year. This is said to be fastest conviction in tiger poaching case in the country.