By Somreet Bhattacharya
A gang of poachers—the country's largest—has been busted with the arrest of one Surajpal alias Chacha (65) and Surajbhan alias Sarju. Surajpal is believed to have the strongest network of poachers in India. His men are active at all important wildlife sanctuaries, especially Jim Corbett National Park, Rajaji National Park and Maharashtra's Melghat Tiger Reserve.
Considered the best suppliers of tiger skins, Chacha and Sarju have earlier worked with infamous poacher Sansar Chand. Chand was recently convicted by a Delhi court. Sarju is a trusted aide of Chacha and arranged the poaching and delivery—he earlier did this for Sansar Chand.
The remains of endangered species are sold for several crores in the international market. China and eastern countries have the largest market for these products. According to the 2010 National Tiger Assessment, the population of tigers in India is 1,706. With Chacha and Sarju's arrest, wildlife experts believe that poaching of tigers will decline.
According to wildlife experts and police officers, Chacha's main source of supply is from poaching tribes in Sonipat, Haryana and other parts of India. He was in contact with about 50-60 families in Rathdhana village in Sonipat and other villages who kill animals for him. "Chacha's network of poachers and smugglers is spread all over India," said Ravindra Yadav, additional commissioner of police (crime branch).
"The poachers used to feed tigers bait laced with poison. The tiger used to die within a radius of 6-10km after which the poachers used to take it away from the jungle. The tiger's skin and other derivatives were then taken out, dried and preservatives were applied to it before being smuggled," said DCP Bhisham Singh.
After arresting the duo and their aide Naresh alias Lala, Delhi Police has recovered tiger skulls, bones, nails and teeth as well as remains of other animals weighing over 18kg and valued at several crores. More....