India: The forest department, Pune, and the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) arrested eight people, including an ayurveda practitioner and an academician, on the charge of possessing and dealing in the skins of two leopards and a tiger in the Warje area on Wednesday.
A case has been registered against the suspects under provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The suspects were in the custody of Bhamburda forest range till September 19, said a forest official.
The forest and the WCCB officials had received a tip-off that three men have in their posession a leopard skin and are in the process of selling it.
Rahul Patil, deputy conservator of forest, Pune division, said, “We laid a trap by sending decoy customers to the suspects and arrested them at Warje on Tuesday. We have recovered one leopard skin and seized a motorcycle.”
He said, “During the trio’s interrogation, we learnt that five people were going to sell two more animal skins in Saswad in Purandar tehsil. We accordingly laid a trap on Wednesday and arrested all of them. We have recovered a leopard and a tiger skin from them.”
None of the suspects has any criminal background. “The three suspects arrested from Warje had received the skin from the main suspect, who is missing now. While other five from Saswad told us that they had got the tiger skin from a man in Saswad.”
“We cannot rule out the possibility of a big nexus of wildlife poachers and product smugglers. Our investigation is on,” added Patil.
(Source: The Times of India)