Sunday, April 29, 2007

India: Police seize leopard, tiger skins, 4 arrested

Pune, Apr 28 : Police on Saturday seized leopard and tiger skins worth 1.3 million rupees from here and arrested four poachers in connection with it.

Police said the men, who were arrested in a raid in rural areas of Pune near Junnar, were also involved in illegal arms peddling.

"Prima facie, the skins appear to that of leopard and tiger. They are hundred percent leopard and tiger skins. We have also seized five sophisticated pistols and two country-made revolvers. Investigation is on and we are also probing their interstate links," said Vishwas Nangre Patil, Superintendent of Police, Pune Rural Police.

The country, which has half the world's surviving tigers, has seen the tiger population dwindling due to the poaching activities.

There were about 40,000 tigers in India a century ago, but decades of poaching and depletion of their natural habitat have cut their numbers to 3,700. Some wildlife experts say the total could actually be as low as 1,200.

The conviction rate of those charged with poaching of endangered animals is less than five percent, with many accused of poaching getting off due to lack of evidence.

In September 2006, a new legislation was a passed that aimed at tackling the tiger crisis. The Act also made a provision for a National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCS) and a Wildlife Crime Bureau to investigate poaching and curbing the illegal trade in wildlife parts.

--- ANI

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