Poacher arrested from Sunderbans
8 Apr 2009, 0550 hrs IST, TNN
KOLKATA: Six months after a tiger carcass was found floating in the Dobanki river in Sunderbans, leading to the arrest of a fisherman on charges of poaching, the CID nabbed the prime accused from a remote island in South 24-Parganas on Tuesday morning. Panchanan Giri had taken shelter at Imlibari village in Satgeria Island.
The racket had been busted after the carcass was found in Dobanki range near Sandeshkhali on October 6. Post-mortem had revealed bullet marks on the adult tiger's head. Though the incident had led to the transfer of several senior officials, the forest department had handed over the investigation to CID. The sleuths managed to trace the gang following 13 days of investigation.
First, CID officers nabbed Paritosh Mondal, a resident of Saratpara at Kumirmari island in the Sunderbans. Probe revealed that Mondal had gone to Jhila forest at Khonakhali along with Panchanan Giri to kill the tiger. Before the actual killing, the duo had made five trips to the forest to observe the tiger's movements.
After a day-long wait atop a tree on October 3, the tiger had appeared in the evening. Both poachers had fired from their long-range rifles, targeting the animal's head. They had expected that the tiger would not be able to move more than a few yards after being shot at. But the tiger did not collapse there and bounded away towards the river with bullet injuries. As it was getting dark, the duo left the place.
They returned the next morning, but could not find the tiger's body. While arresting Paritosh, CID officers had seized long-range rifles, some other firearms and ammunition from the residence of Panchanan, who had managed to evade police net for so long. Police said he had taken shelter in a house near Canning railway station. A few days ago, he went to Satgeria in the Basirhat range to visit a relative. Acting on a tip-off, CID officials raided the village on Tuesday and picked him up. Probe revealed that Panchanan was a professional poacher. He had committed similar crimes earlier and had been arrested with a tiger skin three years ago. Police are now trying to trace the others in the gang.
"Giri has other criminal antecedents too," said a CID officer. "We are trying to gather more details about the gang," said Sanjay Mukherjee, DIG CID. Police suspect the key man, who is engaging villagers to poach Sunderbans wildlife, is still at large. "Some days back, forest officials recovered a tiger skin from a fisherman's house at Kultali. But we could not find the person who appointed the fisherman. It is possible that a single racket is behind all this," said another CID officer. Giri will be produced in court on Wednesday.
Conservationists and wildlife experts welcomed the arrest. "With stricter vigilance in the north and central Indian sanctuaries, poachers are moving south and east. The police and the forest department must act together," said conservationist Bittu Sehgal.
Former director of Sunderban Tiger Reserve, Pranabesh Sanyal, agreed. "Poaching has never been a serious problem in the Sunderbans. But now, it seems things have changed and we need to be more careful," he said.