By Priyangi Agarwal
BAREILLY: The forest department has arrested a poacher from Haripur range of Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR) on Tuesday. The arrested poacher is an accomplice of the eight poachers who were arrested last week by a joint team of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) New Delhi, Pilibhit forest department and special task force. Meanwhile, Rakesh, considered to be the kingpin of the gang, has surrendered in the local court on Tuesday.
Confirming the development, divisional forest officer (DFO), PTR, Kailesh Prakash said, "We arrested poacher, Shyamlal, from Haripur range. He had placed nets to trap a deer for poaching purpose."
"Shyamlal has confessed to killing the two adult tigers and selling their bones in Nepal. However, the arrested poachers were only middlemen in the whole racket. Rakesh, the kingpin of the gang, has surrendered in the local court on Tuesday and has been sent to jail. We would interrogate him to know details and activities of gang," said the DFO. Rakesh belongs to Menakut village under Madhawtanda police station of Pilibhit.
Shyamlal, who is a native of Singhaipur village in Lakhimpur Kheri district, is one of the gang members of poachers who had killed two adult tigers in November and December 2013 in Barahi range of PTR.
Efforts are on to trace four of their accomplices still on the run. The forest authorities said that nearly four poachers are on the run and two of them has been identified as Kandhai Lal and Shree Krishna.
The incident came to light 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. The Nepal police had then informed National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) who told this to Pilibhit forest officials. After which, eight poachers were arrested and team recovered sizeable quantity of tiger bones, teeth and body parts from them.
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.