By Prashanth K Nageshappa
I was shooting for the book “The UNSUNG” at Lakkavalli, when this case was cracked by the Bhadra staff. During their daily patrols, on 12th June 2014, four field staff of Lakkavalli Range (Bhadra Tiger Reserve), came across a few suspicious objects near a stream. This prompted them to intensify their search in that area, which led them to a poachers’ den site. They contacted their office and other Anti Poaching Camp staff using their wireless kit to provide an update.
Once the reinforcement staff arrived, they worked out a detailed plan to approach poachers from all the directions, encircled and captured 7 poachers. Upon exploring the site further, the team found several tools used to dig the soil, cooking utensils, groceries and a full grown live monitor lizard, which was meant to be supper for the poachers that evening.
Further investigations revealed that these poachers had come from Ramulu Gudda village, Kuppam Taluk, Andhra Pradesh and entered the forest in search of Pangolins (a Schedule I animal as per Wildlife Protection Act, 1972). A case was registered against all the 7 poachers who were produced to Tarikere JMFC court. The monitor lizard they had captured was released back into the wild.
Based on the evidences provided by the forest department staff, on 8th Jan 2015, Tarikere JMFC court convicted all 7 poachers and sentenced them to 3 years’ imprisonment and Rs.50,000 fine each.