By Vivek Deshpande
The tally of tiger skins traded by wildlife smugglers in Vidarbha region has gone up to seven with Surajbhan alias Sarju, arrested earlier this month in Delhi, informing investigators that he has knowledge of two more skins being traded by notorious wildlife smugglers Dalbir and Kallo.
"Sarju is now also talking of two more skins and is taking names of two others (Ranjit and Kallo) in that connection, but it is not yet confirmed," said Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests S S Mishra.
Sarju has already admitted to purchasing five skins near Nagpur on behalf of Surajpal alias Chacha, also arrested by the Delhi Police.
According to unconfirmed reports, over 20 tiger skins and parts have been traded in central India in the last one year.
Though Maharashtra forest officers have been restricting their version to five skins only, a major conclave at Delhi attended by officials of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Intelligence Bureau, Delhi Police, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and wildlife heads of different states earlier this month led to the perception that something big had happened and hence so many different agencies were sent calls.
Besides, the NTCA directed field directors of different tiger reserves from Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan, too, to interrogate Sarju, who is currently in custody of the Maharashtra forest department. More....