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Two Tibetans among tiger poachers

November 11, 2009

Jaideep Hardikar & Gyan Varma
DNA News
November 10, 2009

The two tiger skins and 50kg of tiger bones and teeth recovered from
the seven poachers, including two Tibetans, arrested on Thursday
appear to be of fresh kills, given their stinging smell and moisture,
the CBI said.

The CBI crackdown was carried out in five states in the past few
days. CBI sources said the skins and bones appear to be of fresh
kills, given their stinging smell and moisture.

"The skins and bones are not very old," said to Thomas John, SP of
CBI's Anti-Corruption Bureau at Nagpur. But wildlife experts say that
the smell remains for about two years on the skin and other body
parts, which makes it difficult to guess whether the parts belonged
to a fresh kill or not.

According to the CBI, one of the skins is about seven feet in length,
typically that of a tigress, and the other is about five-and-a-half
feet. "One of them bears two marks of bullets," said John. However,
the agency refused to display the seizures saying they have been
sealed for investigations. The matter is being handled by a team from
New Delhi.

The team was following a specific clue that led to the nabbing of the
culprits, who, the CBI believed, are part of an inter-state gang.
Sources in the CBI said the poachers were identified as Charan Das,
Amit Kumar, Ranjit, Sadhu and Ram Swaroop who were arrested from
Nagpur railway station while Tashi Tsjhering, a Tibetan national, was
arrested from Majnu Ka Tila in north Delhi and Tashi Ladoe was also
arrested from Delhi soon after. The investigators have recovered two
leopard skins, one otter skin and red sandalwood the possession of these two.

The CBI's senior public prosecutor Bharat Badami said the agency has
sought their transit remand from a special court and is in the
process of taking them to New Delhi, where the crime is registered.

The accused had boarded the general compartment of Sampark Kranti
express at Ballarshah junction in Chandrapur district. The CBI
sleuths from New Delhi, on their trail, arrested them when the train
reached Nagpur. "They had packed the tiger skins and bones in a
netted cloth so that no one would suspect foul play," said John. They
were using a group of five to ten women in the same compartment as a
camouflage. The women, John said, had no knowledge of the crime.

The accused, headed for Bhopal, were to courier the skins and bones
to some other party, to be smuggled out of the country.Critically
endangered, the tiger population worldwide has plummeted to 3,100 of
which 1,400 are in India. The London-based Environmental
Investigation Agency (EIA), in its report released in New Delhi on
October 22, illustrated the widespread sale of tiger skins and bones
in China. The report, for the sixth year, showed India continues to
lose tigers because of relentless demand for tiger parts in China.

The CBI did not comment on whether the five accused had links with
Sansarchand, the notorious poacher, or with the two members of an
alleged poaching gang arrested in New Delhi on October 12. The agency
on Thursday also arrested two Tibetan citizens in Delhi and seized
from them two leopard and seven otter skins.

"The arrests and seizures show failure of our anti-poaching
measures," said Nitin Desai of the Wild Life Protection Society of
India (WPSI). "On the other hand," he said, "it's good that the
higher agencies like CBI are taking such cases seriously. It will in
turn push the local agencies to take up stringent anti-poaching measures."
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