A well-coordinated operation, involving central and state units of police force, and forest department officials, has led to the arrest of 10 persons from Madhya Pradesh with wildlife contraband.
The accused have been identified as Bavarnath, Rajunath, Bavarnath, Lalunath, Amrunth, Rameshnath, Jaysheelnath, Prakash, Sharmanath, and Mangunath.
All of them were tribals and hailed from Mandsaur district in Madhya Pradesh.
The group had landed in Kollegal two days ago to poach tigers and when the arrests were made, they were carrying 15 tiger claws, 2 tiger canines and Rs 2 lakh in cash, allegedly the advance amount paid by the prospective buyers of tiger skin.
For the past one week, the wildlife investigating agencies working under the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) were tracking a group of tribesmen from Madhya Pradesh, who were planning to carry out tiger poaching in the forests on Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border.
On Friday, the forest officials in Bangalore were tipped off about the movement of the gang, who were to reach Mandya railway station on the same evening and proceed to Kollegal. The intelligence input also specified that the group was posing as merchants dealing with plastic.
The forest department had formed a team of police and forest officials under BRT Tiger Reserve Director S Lingaraju and raided the gang at R S Doddi in Hanur.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Vinay Luthra said that the central authorities had tipped them off about a possible poaching attempt. “The contraband recovered from the gang seems old and we were able to catch them before they could carry out any poaching here,” he said.
The investigating officials revealed that in the past one month the gang had carried out transaction of up to Rs 65-75 lakh in the ICICI Bank.
“We are examining their bank transactions to ascertain who their clients were. It seems the gang had entered the state forest for the first time. However we are trying to investigate their past poaching activities,” said an official.