India: A special team of Sathyamangalam forest officials on Saturday arrested the fourth accused in connection with last week's seizure of a tiger skin in Karnataka.
The officials said the accused, Siddappa, a resident of Thiaganarai village in Thalavadi taluk in Sathyamangalam, was the main accused and he had promised to give the other three, who were arrested at Yeshwantpura with the skin.
During questioning, Siddappa told the officials that the skin did not belong to a tigress from Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (STR), as claimed by the other three accused that were in the custody of Yeshwantpura forest officials.
"The poached tiger is allegedly not from STR," said C H Padma, deputy director of STR. "We have registered a new case here in connection with the Bengaluru case. A thorough investigation is underway," she added.
On January 22, the Karnataka police arrested Balakrishna, 28, Mahesh, 23 and Rangaraj, 36 for illegally possessing a tiger skin. They were from the same village as Siddappa. The police filed an FIR in which the cost of the skin was estimated as Rs 15 lakh.
Later the three were handed over to Yeshwantpura forest officials. They filed a case under the various sections of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. During inquiry, the accused told the officials that the skin was removed from a tigress poached in STR.
Following this, the Yeshwantpura forest officials informed their counterpart in STR. Based on this a special team was formed to find the carcass of the tigress.
Meanwhile, the team has found a carcass. The team has spot-merged the parts of the carcass but they refused to conclude whether the carcass was the one they were searching for.
I Anwardeen, field director of STR said, "We examined the carcass at the field. Bones were sent for further analysis as part of the standard examinations. Only after receiving the reports we could conclude anything."
In a similar case, Karnataka forest officials had seized tiger bones and claws in 2015 and arrested a resident of a village near Mettupalayam. After three weeks of the incident, Sathyamangalam forest officials arrested two more people involved in the case. The officials seized 17 tiger claws from one of the arrested. The case is still pending in a court.
(Source: The Times of India)