Bangalore/ Mysore:Â 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. âThe contraband recovered from the gang seems old and we were able to catch them before they could carry out any poaching here,â 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.
âWe 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,â said an official.
Next: Six tigers found in Belgaum forest range
Six tigers found in Belgaum forest range
Naushad Bijapur | DC
Belgaum:Â The tiger census in the Belgaum forest range has revealed the presence of at least six tigers. The census was carried out for 11 days from December 12 and forest officials sighted a tiger at a close range in the forests of Chorla near Belgaum.
The census team has confirmed the existence of several other wild animals in Belgaum forests, said Deputy Conservator of Forests Ambadi Madhav.
The census was taken up in parts of Khanapur, Nagargali, Golihalli, Londa, Bhimgad wildlife sanctuary, Nesargi and Londa, where local residents have reported sightings of animals. Leopards, bears and elephants have strayed into villages surrounding the Khanapur forest.
Madhav said that a tiger, around 10 years old, was sighted during the census in the Chorla forest along the Goaborder.
âThe Chorla forest is dense and houses a number of wild animals. We gathered comprehensive information, on the existence and movement of tigers and other endangered species. The census findings will be assessed by the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, and the exact number of tigers will be known after that,â Madhav said.
Most of the pugmarks were found near ponds and thick trees, and the team also found scratch marks on tree trunks and studied them. Besides pugmarks, camera traps at various places have also helped the team get details on the movement of wild animals, including tigers.
The team could establish the age and sex of various carnivores and their prey base, Madhav said.
The census has also helped the forest department officials record the areas where the tigers and other wild animals move around normally in these forests.
More than 230 forest officials and 21 members from various NGOs were part of the census team. Madhav said that the 10 ranges of forest were divided into 118 beats.
Khanapur, Chorla, Golihalli, Londa and Bhimgad are close to Dandeli forest, where the movement of leopards and tigers has been
Next: State in poachersâ radar
State in poachersâ radar
In 2002 a photographer riding a safari vehicle inside Nagarhole Tiger Reserve happened to snap a tiger which was limping with a jaw trap on its paw.
The incident brought to light the presence of tribal poaching gangs from Madhya Pradesh operating in the state.
Currently Karnataka has the highest numbers of tigers in the wild in the country. Following the incident, the forest officials were successful in catching two such poaching gangs at D B Kuppe and Aane Chowkur and recovered wildlife contraband and large amount of cash from them.
They belonged to Katni district in Madhya Pradesh. However the gang members later got released on bail.
Recently the same gang tried to enter the BRT Tiger Reserve, but were caught by alert forest officials. The gang members were convicted by the Kollegal court.
âBandipur and Nagarhole has higher protection standards than other tiger reserves, hence organised poaching becomes difficult for such gangs. Hence they target areas such as M M Hills, Brahmagiri and fringes of BRT Tiger Reserve, where protection is comparatively less stringent,â said a wildlife expert.