By P. Oppili
Officials of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, Southern Region, busted a gang involved in poaching in Tamil Nadu and seized tiger and leopard cat skins from it in Coimbatore on Thursday.
The bureau’s regional deputy director (south), S.R.V. Murthy, said the four-member gang poached the tiger and the leopard cat skins in Kodaikanal forests.
Palpandi (29) is the leader of the gang and Karpagavinayagam (30) is his aide. Both hailed from Kukkal in Kodaikanal. The two transported the skins by bus from Kodaikanal to Coimbatore.
An officer from the bureau approached the poachers as a prospective buyer and asked them to come to Coimbatore. The gang asked for Rs. 70 lakh for the skins and demanded an advance of Rs 1 lakh. The official agreed and met them in Coimbatore and paid the advance.
Mr. Murthy said preliminary investigation revealed that Palpandi was a habitual offender and Karpagavinayagam assisted him during poaching operations. Arumugam, the mastermind, is at large. Soon he would be arrested.
Cases have been registered under various Sections of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, which included Section 3 (Prevention of Hunting), Section 27 (Restriction on entry into Sanctuaries) and Section 39 (Wild animals to be treated as government property), Mr Murthy said.