Saturday, October 17, 2009

These poachers skinned Sariskas tigers alive

These poachers skinned Sariskas tigers alive

Thursday, October 15, 2009

THE TWO most notorious killers of Sariskas tigers and leopards have recounted chilling details of how the big cats were mercilessly skinned alive to keep the value of the skin intact.

Jeevan Das and Surta, known as the tiger bandits of Rajasthans Sariska, told CBI officials that they incapacitated numerous tigers and panthers with a simple blow of a stick on the forehead after trapping them in rudimentary iron traps.

After that, they would skin the unconscious big cat alive. Once this is done, they would deliver a final blow to kill the animal for good.

“ A gunshot mark reduced the price of the tiger skin by almost half the price.

Also, skinning the tiger while it was still alive ensured that the skin did not lose its glow because of decomposition. By doing so, we got nearly Rs 1 lakh per such skin,” Das said.

It took the CBI nearly four years to hunt down the two big- ticket poachers after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh deputed the central agency to probe the disappearance of tigers from Sariska in 2005.

They were arrested from a village near Mansa in Punjab on October 10.

The CBI says Das and Surta, who are relatives, supplied the skins to a gang based at Samalakha near Sonepat in Haryana. This gang later sold the prized objects to Sansar Chand of Delhi.

Chand is now in Tihar Jail after being convicted in three cases of illegal trade of animal skins.

“ There were three main poachers operating in Sariska who supplied skins to the Sansar Chand network. One was Kalya Bawaria. He was arrested in 2005 and convicted two years later. The other two were Jeevan Das and Surta,” a top CBI official said.

The duo was from Panipat and they moved to Sarsika in 2000 after learning about the lax security mechanism in the tiger reserve. “ They devised an ingenious iron trap called khatka to trap a tiger by its paw. Blows on the cats forehead would render it unconscious and they would start skinning the big cat alive. But the duo disappeared from Sariska in 2005,” the CBI official added.

The CBI says there are recorded instances of 22 tiger and 24 panther poaching in Sariska from 2001 to 2005.

The Jeevan- Surta duo was officially accused of killing six of these tigers and 13 panthers. But the duo is believed to have killed much more.

Das was arrested by the Rajasthan wildlife department in 1995, but he managed to secure bail and abscond. “ Surta was never arrested before. They are the missing link in many wildlife cases lodged by the CBI and the Rajasthan govt,” a CBI official said.

October 15, 2009 Issue Mail Today - page 18

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