Hyderabad: A seven-year-old male tiger bearing the identity number M7 GBM and an 8 month old cub were poached around three months ago from the Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve. Their skin which was being stored at Dornala, under the Mirzapur forest division in Ongole district, was seized by forest officials on Saturday.
The officials arrested one G. Vijay Kumar and his father G. Chitti Babu for storing the tiger skin. But investigations revealed that they did not poach the animal.
Nagarjunasagar Srisa-ilam Tiger Reserve field director Rahul Pandey explained, “Following a tip-off division forest officer N. Khadhar Valli and his team raided the house of G. Vijay Kumar in Dornala and seized the skin of a 7-year-old male tiger and an 8-month-old cub. When matched with the picture of the male tiger skin, the database identified it as M7 GBM (a unique code given to tigers). However, the forest department does not have a database for cubs.”
“Going by the investigation report, the male tiger and the cub were poached three months ago. The arrested people have revealed the identity of the person who poached the animals. However, the two were just middlemen helping in storing the skin for sale. The cost of the skin would range between Rs. 3-4 lakh. The forest department and the local office is jointly trying to nab the poacher and identify the buyers,” added the officer.
Officials said the poached tiger was earlier mapped by forest units at Pangidi, Abrajkunta. The forest department has created a database of the 41 tigers in the reserve through camera mapping. Every tiger’s strip differs from another like human fingerprint.
As per the Wild Life Protection Act, poaching is non-bailable, and culprits will face seven years in prison. The Andhra Pradesh forest department, Wild Life Crime Control Bureau, and police are on high alert to check poaching.