By Vijay Pinjarkar
The tiger poaching saga is getting murkier day by day. Saranki, the poacher arrested from Umariya in Madhya Pradesh, has revealed during his three-day forest custody that gang leader Ajit, whose MCR was extended till October 24 on Thursday, was involved in the killing of another tiger, near Mansar, in November last year.
Till now it was assumed that Ajit, nabbed from near Tirupati recently, and his absconding brother Keru killed only two tigers. But now there is more to it. Tiger skin trader Sarju Bagdi has already told TOI that over 20 tiger skins were smuggled out from here in the last 8-9 months.
According to forest department sources, Saranki showed the spot on Wednesday, which is 7 km away from Mansar and in Paoni range. Saranki told officials that he along with Ajit, Khatia, Sheru and Kaka executed the plan to kill a tiger, while 40-50 other members stayed at a temporary camp near Amdi railway station. The poachers commuted by a shared auto rickshaw to reach the spot.
Simultaneously, the forest officials also seized a steel trap which was used in the killing of a tiger in Umred-Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary in May this year. Saranki led the investigators to the farm of Shriram Bele, 10 km away from the sanctuary towards Torna village, where the steel trap was hidden. It was seized with the help of metal detectors.
The skin of the Mansar tiger is said to have been procured by Sarju Bagdi in December 2012. On Thursday, Sarju's MCR was also extended till October 24. Earlier, in May-June this year, Sarju had procured five tiger skins from poachers. All these skins belong to tigers killed in Vidarbha region. Seven tiger killings, including one killing in Pench, have been brought on record. The Mansar's case seems to be a fresh one. More....