As many as five members of a gang were caught while allegedly trying to smuggle a tiger skin in Ichoda of Adilabad district in Telangana. According to officials, the accused belong to Warangal, Nirmal and Hyderabad. The tiger skin has been recovered and the accused have been shifted to the Adilabad Forest Guesthouse for further probe.
Sharwanand, the Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF), Kawal Tiger Reserve, said that the tiger skin was recovered in a joint operation carried out by officials of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau – Chennai region and the state Forest department staff, based on a tipoff from a wildlife organisation.
Speaking to TNM, Sharwanand said, “In a joint operation on Saturday, Wildlife Crime Control officials and our department have seized a tiger skin and held five persons in Ichoda based on a tipoff.”
Stating that the skin belonged to a tiger from the Kawal Tiger Reserve, Sharwanand said that the tiger was likely to have been poached in the middle of October 2018.
When asked where the accused were planning to take the skin and the purpose, the CCF said, “It appears that they did this for the sake of easy money… where it is being taken and who is behind it will be known following the investigation.”
It may be recalled that a male tiger was spotted in the Kawal Tiger Reserve last month. Reports suggested that the tiger, a picture of which was captured on the camera traps set up in the region, was in good health. This sighting took the state’s total tiger count to seven.
When asked if the seized skin could be that of the tiger spotted last month in the reserve, the CCF said, “The seized tiger skin suggests that it was poached in October 2018 and is not that of the recently spotted tiger. It is probable that this is the skin of the tiger that was spotted and recorded in the Jannaram area.”
In early 2016 and in 2017, there were several reports of a tiger being sighted in the Jannaram forest area.
Officials assert that all measures are being taken to make the forests more habitable for tigers for the past few years, such as developing grasslands and providing waterholes.