Mancherial: As many as 16 persons were arrested by Ramagundam police on Wednesday in what is being billed as one of the largest, if not the largest ever set of arrests of people involved in wildlife poaching in Telangana as well as in the erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh. Seven of those arrested are from Maharashtra.
Four others were arrested earlier in the same case after the skin of a male tiger was seized from a house in Mandamarri on January 24. The tiger was killed on January 7 near Shivaram village of Jaipur mandal in Mancherial district.
Four persons, all involved with killing of the tiger and trying to sell its skin and claws, were arrested within a few days of the seizure.
This is one of the largest such instances of a coordinated crackdown on poachers and those associated with a single case of poaching of a wild animal, a forest department official told ‘Telangana Today’.
Those arrested on Wednesday include three accused of poaching the tiger, two animal trackers of the Forest Department, five brokers, the head and six activists of a Chandrapur-based voluntary organization.
Officials of the police Task Force also seized a motorcycle, two four-wheelers, iron wire snares and Rs 4.80 lakh from the groups arrested on Wednesday.
According to Ramagundam Commissioner of Police V Satyanarayana, the three poachers held on Wednesday were Nakka Mallaiah, Thokala Bucchirajam and Thokala Shekhar, all from Shivaram village.
Trackers also held
Two animal trackers from the State Forest Department, Md Shareef and Thokala Rajalingu, were also arrested. Four others who tried to broker a deal to sell the skin of the poached tiger – Ilaveni Anjaiah from Mandamarri, Cheneli Purnchander of Godavarikhani, Koyala Pandu from Asifabad, and Ilaveni Lingaiah, a native of Choppadandi, were among those who were caught.
Confirming the role of an NGO from Maharashtra, Tiger Hunt Ending Association based in Chandrapur, in the case, Satyanarayana said they arrested Nanda Kishore Pimple, the NGO’s president along with Piyush Barde, Ashwin, Rakesh Chakravarthi, Thomas Thodase, all THEA members. They were helped by Gurnele Suresh, a sarpanch from Devada in Maharasthtra. Pimple and other THEA members were involved in hunting of big cats by luring poachers with offers to buy skins of tigers after which they used to dupe the poachers.
Information leaked to hunters
“The two trackers leaked information on the tiger’s movements to the hunters. They encouraged the hunters to poach, citing huge profits in selling skin and claws of the big cat,” Satyanarayana said.
Satyanarayana said the poachers then tried to sell the skin and the nails with the help of Sailu, Komaraiah, Anjaiah, Pandu, Suresh and Nanda Kishore. They entered into a deal with THEA activists on January 23. Their act was exposed when one of the activists passed on the information to forest officials after stealing cash Rs 4.8 lakh by promising to double the amount by keeping it on the skin of the big cat.