The Times of India reported earlier last week that a tiger hide was confiscated in a joint operation by police and forest officials in Chhindawara district of Madhya Pradesh.
Four people involved in the crime were arrested, but a fifth suspect remains at large.
Police received a tip-off about suspects as they were looking for gullible customers to sell the tiger hide. A team was constituted by Chhindwara SP Gaurav Tiwari and DFO (south) R P Tripathi. A trap was set and the accused were arrested. “This hide seems to be around three months old,” said Tripathi.
Officials sent pictures of the hide’s stripes for further identification. During interrogation, the accused said that they had got this hide from one Avinash. “Efforts are being made to arrest him,” said the DFO. He said that it was undoubtedly a tiger cub and the hide is around 117 cm long. The suspects were booked under different sections of Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
Chhindwara is closely connected with tiger reserves in Maharashtra. In 2014 the district was listed among one of the 73 districts identified as tiger poaching hotspots in a latest study conducted by Wildlife Protection Society of India and Snow Leopard Trust.
The study, Tiger poaching and trafficking in India, estimated rates of occurrence and detection over four decades, while attempting to ascertain the probability of occurrence of tiger crime and detection between 1972 and 2012 in the 605 districts of India.
Experts tested the hypotheses that tiger crime is influenced by the presence of tiger trade hubs, proximity to a number of tiger habitats, and that tiger poachers prefer to use rail routes over highways.