By Subhash Chandra N.S.
The Forest Department squad of Biligiri Rangana Temple Wildlife Sanctuary (BRTWLS), pursuing fleeing poachers, has bumped into a well-knit racket into ungulate (hoofed animals) poaching, which has been active for the past five years.
Three persons have been arrested in this connection. A few poachers, who managed to escape by hoodwinking the forest officials three months ago, after they were caught with their prize of spotted deer and sambar are now in the custody of the department. This has revealed a big network of poachers, which acts in the guise of visitors in all the major national parks in the State.
The department squad, which managed to trace a call made to a mobile phone by the poachers from a village Kogahalli near K Gudi helped them to nab three persons, namely Shahid, a resident of Chikmagalur district, Tanveer of Mysore and Touseef from Chikmagalur. They were nabbed from their houses.
However, the kingpin identified as Salman is absconding. The group, according to official sources, was operating for the past five years.
The trio reportedly confessed that Salman had several groups operating and had so far poached over a 100 chital and sambars using .22 mm rifles, which make less noise.
According to B K Singh, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Chief Wildlife Warden, “On interrogation, we learnt that the kingpin Salman, studying MBA in London is a frequent visitor. This is just a group, which claims to have killed 40 ungulates- 25 in Bandipur, ten in Nagarhole and five in BRTWLS,” he said.
Singh said that Salman is found to have been in Dubai and the Department is co-ordinating with the Intelligence Bureau to secure him.
Expressing shock over the incident, he said that their modus operandi includes moving in fast cars on the main roads entering into the forests and poaching the animals moving close by, hide the carcass and collect it later when there is no movement of forest staff or vehicle. “We are shocked with this revelation. They have fooled us for five years. We can’t even imagine that they have poached animals during the safari timings in Biligiri Rangana Temple Wildlife Sanctuary, when the vehicles are ferrying tourists. More shocking is that they are educated,” he said. More....