SUBJECT :Wild Life Crime 

BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh is a crucial link in theinternational poaching corridor straddling Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Nepal and Tibet. But even as tiger hides from the state's reserves are being seized even in faraway Nepal, the MP forest department is reluctant to lodge cases of poaching. With the big cat population depleting, insiders accuse senior officials of the forest department of breeding tigers for poachers. 

Maharashtra counterparts have not only nabbed 13 members of an MP-based poaching network in the last three months, but have also stumbled on clues on unabated smuggling of wildlife contrabands to international borders from here. 

On Thursday, a team of the MP forest department is being dispatched to Nagpur to interrogate tiger skin smuggler Sarju Bagdi alias Suraj Bhan. 

Sarju's name figures in the statements of more than 13 MP poachers lodged in Nagpur Central Jail. His call details records indicate he was in constant touch with at least seven poachers in MP. 

Sarju, a resident of Akbarpur Bharota in Sonepat (Haryana), has confessed to have smuggled out skins of 20 tigers poached in the Central Indian tiger landscape. 

It is also being suspected his gang is behind smuggling of five tiger skins confiscated by Nepal police on January 12, which includes skin a tigress poached from the Pench Tiger Reserve. The state forest department had been sitting idle on a Wildlife Crime control Bureau (WCCB) and National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) proposal for a probe on seizure of its skin in Nepal for more than seven months. Principal chief conservator of forest PCCF Narendra Kumar, said he will personally look into this case and get an offence registered once the skin is verified. 

The said recommendations, a copy of which is in TOI's possession, is based on the report of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) Dehradun. "Of the pictures of the six individual skins sent, picture no P-1980603 matches with a tigress from Pench TR with ID 13-2010 in our database that was photo-captured during the country wide monitoring Phase III. Since WII has an ongoing research project on monitoring tiger population in Pench, the research database was further searched for the history of tigress," reads NTCA's letter to the principal chief conservator of Forest (PCCF) dated May 9. 

Letter by NTCA's assistant inspector general (AIG) Sanjay Kumar reads one of the skins recovered from Nepal (on January 12, 2012) matches a photo of a breeding tigress from Pench reserve. This was confirmed from the photo-capture database of WII, Dehradun.

"The findings of the team also reveal that some the sacks used as packing material were bearing address of an Indore-based firm. I am directed to request you for appropriate action involving the CID and police department to ascertain the factual status of possible wildlife crime nexus," NTCA's Sanjay Kumar wrote. 

Another letter to PCCF MP for registering an offence for suspected poaching of T13 was on May 16 by WCCB which wrote, " is requested that to ascertain the wildlife criminal network involved in transnational smuggling of wildlife contrabands, an offence report should be registered and investigated. WCCB will extend the requisite assistance in tracing networks during the probe."

Source: Times of India (Dated 19 Sep 2013)